Smoking gun: Emails reveal Lois Lerner warning IRS employees to be cautious about what they say in emails

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(NaturalNews) What happens in Washington, D.C., would largely stay in Washington, D.C., were it not for certain press outlets that operate as our founders envisioned American media would: as a watchdog on those in power.

That's why, even on a site largely dedicated to reporting about natural foods and science, it is important to expose the wrongdoings of those who mean to rule over us, simply because of the amount of control that they have over our lives, including, of course, the power to condemn, shut down, harangue, harass and fine the very innovators of the natural foods and sciences we cover.

That is why it is important, especially, to expose the behavior of certain IRS officials in recent weeks, because the IRS, especially, has such great power: power to destroy businesses, lives and livelihoods.

Most Americans are aware that former IRS official Lois Lerner is suspected of focusing undue, unnecessary scrutiny on so-called Tea Party political groups prior to the 2012 elections. According to recent reports, she may have been involved even more deeply than originally suspected.

'Undue scrutiny'

At one point, Lerner cautioned her staff about "what we say in emails" during internal discussions last year, which appears to indicate that she was sensitive to the fact that electronic communications could be stored and later retrieved on government backup systems.

Lerner's comments were the focus of renewed congressional hearings early in July. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has been particularly dogged in trying to find out the extent of the IRS's unprecedented targeting of specific groups applying for tax-exempt status, but so far has been stunted by Lerner and Democrats on the panel. As reported by Fox News July 9:

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., referred to that discussion during a House oversight committee hearing on Wednesday, as he once again pressed IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on his concerns about ex-official Lois Lerner's missing emails.

He specifically voiced concern about an internal IRS chat system called the Office Communications Server, claiming Lerner wanted to make sure the messages weren't tracked.

This system was the subject of the emails between Lerner and other staffers in April 2013.

On April 9, 2013, Lerner -- then the director of Exempt Organization at the nation's tax agency, sent an email to IT employee Maria Hooke, asking about the Office Communications Server as it related to the saving of chats from the IRS chat system, and specifically, if Congress could access those messages.

"I had a question today about OCS [Microsoft Office Communications Server]. I was cautioning folks about email and how we have several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails -- so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails. Someone asked if OCS conversations were also searchable -- I don't know, but told them I would get back to them. Do you know?" Lerner wrote, according to The Wall Street Journal.

'A smoking gun'

Hooke said the messages "are not set to automatically save" but that anyone could "copy and save the contents" to an email or file.

Hooke further recommended that the IRS treat those conversations "as if it could/is being saved [somewhere], as it is possible for either party of the conversation to retain the information and have it turn up as part of the electronic search."

"Perfect," was Lerner's reply, Fox News and Politico reported.

Prior to this revelation, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before Issa's panel that emails long sought by Congress had been destroyed; they had been stored on several computer hard drives, including Lerner's, that had been sought by House members.

Lerner has twice refused to answer questions during appearances before Congress, citing her Fifth Amendment rights.

As further reported by Politico, Issa characterized Lerner's emails as "a smoking gun."


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