Cumberland Times-News

Columns

June 22, 2014

No surprise

IRS can’t blame Fido for this situation

— It’s an excuse that’s so old, lame and worn-out that it has become a cliche.

Some of us tried it when we were young and didn’t know better — it never works — although we know of at least one time it actually happened. The teacher believed it because the student turned in the shredded and slightly soggy remains of his paper.

You’ve heard it: “The dog ate my homework.”

A similar scenario is playing out in the halls of Congress, with claims by the Internal Revenue Service that an unknown number of e-mails related to the tea party investigation have been lost because federal employees connected to the probe experienced hard drive crashes.

At issue is the IRS handling of applications for tax-exempt status, particularly those from politically conservative organizations.

Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he wants the hard drives of every one of those computers. Forensic science has come a long way. It’s amazing what experts can find in computers that seemingly have crashed for good or had their memories erased.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said efforts were made to recover e-mails that were lost when former commissioner Lois Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011, but they proved futile.

The IRS already has released thousands of documents to Congress, but Koskinen said it will share no more details about the lost e-mails until it has finished its own review.

That, he said, is because Congressional Republicans are releasing inaccurate interim information. On this, he may have a point.

What one believes regarding almost any situation involving politics depends entirely upon what one wants to believe. The so-called “spin doctors” have become so convincing that regardless of how different their stories may be, an impartial observer doesn’t know what to think.

It should surprise nobody that the IRS investigation has taken a contentious partisan turn.

Like “The dog ate my homework,” it’s nothing new — at least in Washington.

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