Lois Lerner's hard drive may have been physically tampered with

The House Oversight Committee released documents yesterday from their investigation into Lois Lerner's missing emails, and a few of them deal with the inquiry into just how Lerner's hard drive "crashed."

Was there a deliberate act to destroy it?

The House Oversight Committee report cites an officially transcribed interview with John Minsek, senior investigative analyst with the IRS Criminal Investigations (CI) unit. Minsek examined the Lerner hard drive in 2011. In the transcribed interview, he notes Lerner's hard drive contained “well-defined scoring creating a concentric circle in the proximity of the center of the disk.” The Oversight Committee report states:

"Using the CI unit's digital forensic facilities, Minsek opened the hard drive and conducted additional tests. Once he opened the hard drive, Minsek noticed “well-defined scoring creating a concentric circle in the proximity of the center of the disk.”

So how did the scoring get there?

Last month, testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) revealed that Lois Lerner’s hard drive had “scoring on the top platter of the drive.” The testimony also noted that the IRS technician that inspected the hard drive believed that additional steps could have been taken to recover data, although this did not occur and the hard drive was later destroyed by an industrial strength AMERI-SHRED AMS-750 HD shredder.

It gets curiouser and curiouser. A close examination of the timeline detailing exactly when Lerner's laptop stopped operating hints strongly at a deliberate act.

  • According to TIGTA testimony submitted to the Oversight Committee on June 25, 2014, Lerner’s laptop stopped communicating with the IRS server on Saturday June 11, 2011, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • According to the same testimony,the laptop was likely physically located in Lerner's office the moment it stopped communicating with the server: 

"Based on consistent network reporting for more than a week, the laptop computer was likely located in Ms. Lerner’s office." 

  • On Monday June 13, 2011, Lerner reported the laptop inoperable. 

Note the significance of the date.According to a timeline of the scandal found in Discover the Networks, Rep. Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to the IRS commissioner the previous week asking if conservative groups were being targeted:

June 3, 2011: David Camp, Republican Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sends a letter to then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman inquiring about a report that the IRS has been conducting an unusually large number of audits of conservative 501(c)(4) groups and taxpayers who have donated money to them. Lawmakers will subsequently send at least seven more letters asking the IRS to address complaints that conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status are being subjected to burdensome screening. (Source and Source)

A fortuitous coincidence that Lerner's hard drive meltdown occurred shortly after Congress showed initial interest in the possible targeting of conservative groups? Or conspirators tying up loose ends?

It's unclear if anyone entered Lerner's office around the time the laptop hard drive crashed because logs were only kept for a year. But the outward condition of the laptop raises some interersting questions:

TIGTA’s testimony states that the laptop as a whole appeared undamaged. When Lerner’s laptop was first inspected by both an assigned IT specialist and Hewlett Packard contractor they both stated that “they did not note any visible damage to the laptop computer itself.”

I think it's about time for a special prosecutor. Most of this investigation is being conducted by the IRS itself. That's laughable. An independent investigation is desperately needed and only a special prosecutor can do that.

The House Oversight Committee released documents yesterday from their investigation into Lois Lerner's missing emails, and a few of them deal with the inquiry into just how Lerner's hard drive "crashed."

Was there a deliberate act to destroy it?

The House Oversight Committee report cites an officially transcribed interview with John Minsek, senior investigative analyst with the IRS Criminal Investigations (CI) unit. Minsek examined the Lerner hard drive in 2011. In the transcribed interview, he notes Lerner's hard drive contained “well-defined scoring creating a concentric circle in the proximity of the center of the disk.” The Oversight Committee report states:

"Using the CI unit's digital forensic facilities, Minsek opened the hard drive and conducted additional tests. Once he opened the hard drive, Minsek noticed “well-defined scoring creating a concentric circle in the proximity of the center of the disk.”

So how did the scoring get there?

Last month, testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) revealed that Lois Lerner’s hard drive had “scoring on the top platter of the drive.” The testimony also noted that the IRS technician that inspected the hard drive believed that additional steps could have been taken to recover data, although this did not occur and the hard drive was later destroyed by an industrial strength AMERI-SHRED AMS-750 HD shredder.

It gets curiouser and curiouser. A close examination of the timeline detailing exactly when Lerner's laptop stopped operating hints strongly at a deliberate act.

  • According to TIGTA testimony submitted to the Oversight Committee on June 25, 2014, Lerner’s laptop stopped communicating with the IRS server on Saturday June 11, 2011, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • According to the same testimony,the laptop was likely physically located in Lerner's office the moment it stopped communicating with the server: 

"Based on consistent network reporting for more than a week, the laptop computer was likely located in Ms. Lerner’s office." 

  • On Monday June 13, 2011, Lerner reported the laptop inoperable. 

Note the significance of the date.According to a timeline of the scandal found in Discover the Networks, Rep. Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to the IRS commissioner the previous week asking if conservative groups were being targeted:

June 3, 2011: David Camp, Republican Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sends a letter to then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman inquiring about a report that the IRS has been conducting an unusually large number of audits of conservative 501(c)(4) groups and taxpayers who have donated money to them. Lawmakers will subsequently send at least seven more letters asking the IRS to address complaints that conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status are being subjected to burdensome screening. (Source and Source)

A fortuitous coincidence that Lerner's hard drive meltdown occurred shortly after Congress showed initial interest in the possible targeting of conservative groups? Or conspirators tying up loose ends?

It's unclear if anyone entered Lerner's office around the time the laptop hard drive crashed because logs were only kept for a year. But the outward condition of the laptop raises some interersting questions:

TIGTA’s testimony states that the laptop as a whole appeared undamaged. When Lerner’s laptop was first inspected by both an assigned IT specialist and Hewlett Packard contractor they both stated that “they did not note any visible damage to the laptop computer itself.”

I think it's about time for a special prosecutor. Most of this investigation is being conducted by the IRS itself. That's laughable. An independent investigation is desperately needed and only a special prosecutor can do that.