The IRS Thinks We’re All Idiots

The government seems to have a data problem. While the NSA has apparently been storing massive amounts of data on innocent Americans deep within its sinister archives, the IRS and the US Census Bureau just can’t seem to keep track of anything. What a difference an acronym makes.

In the continuing efforts to uncover the truth about the IRS’ scandalous targeting of conservative non-profits during the 2012 elections, Republicans have been trying to get hold of a number of emails from professional mute Lois Lerner. These emails would shed light on who knew what, and when, and whether the scandal goes up higher in the chain of command than officials are letting on.

However, it turns out the emails in question have been conveniently “lost,” as have emails from six other high ranking officials who may be implicated in the scandal.

Note that not all of the IRS’ emails have vanished, but just the ones from the relevant personnel from the specific period of time in which they may have incriminated themselves. That’s quite a narrow window, and quite a lucky coincidence for Lerner and friends. Unless of course you believe that, when it comes to government, there are no coincidences.

This selective information loss seems to have been going around lately, and now the Census Bureau is claiming to have run afoul of the same problem. This time, the selective amnesia comes with reference to a series of emails involving a little talked about scandal from last years in which Census workers were caught falsifying data in order to misrepresent the true unemployment rate. We’ll never know the true extent of the problem though, as the relevant documents are now nowhere to be found.

Anyone who has worked in a large organization with a lot of computers and a lot more security knows that outright losing emails is essentially impossible. Everything is backed up on multiple servers and can be retrieved if necessary with minimal difficulty. This should hold especially true for agencies that specialize in collecting confidential taxpayer data, and while the incompetence of government employees should never be underestimated, the fact that large amount of important communications from senior officials would simply disappear without a trace is ludicrous, especially given the extremely specific nature of the gaps.

So actually, it’s not so much a data problem, as it is a lying problem.

Now, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa, has issued a subpoena for the commissioner of the IRS, John Koskinen, to explain the obvious falsehoods under oath before Congress, complete with some strong words that indicate his loss of patience.

“I will not tolerate your continued obstruction and game play,” Issa said.

Quite right, and neither should the American people. It’s utterly disgraceful that government agencies charged with treating everyone fair and equally have become so brazen in their disregard both for the law and for basic decency. They have learned that they can get away with almost anything, and with that knowledge have lost all sense of accountability. It’s time to put a stop to it.

As citizens, we must be relentless in refusing to let this story die, and in demanding real consequence for the administration’s contempt for the due process of law. If we want to avoid a tyrannical autocracy, where leaders are free to do anything they want without consequence, we have to start making examples of rogue agencies that regularly abuse their power.