WASHINGTON — Darrell Issa, Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is willing to “make a deal with the devil,” if it means getting to the bottom of the cover-up he believes the Internal Revenue Service is using to hide its anti-tea party tactics.
In this case, the devil Issa knows is Edward Snowden, the man who blew the whistle on many of the National Security Agency’s questionable spying tactics and is now living under temporary asylum in Russia. “I’m beginning to think we could use a man like him back in our I.T. department,” said Issa.
The Republican of California hopes that Snowden might be able to use his technical prowess to recover the emails of the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit, which are said to have been lost to a computer crash. The missing messages are thought to be primarily from exchanges with bodies external to the IRS, including the White House.
“Do I completely trust Snowden? No,” Issa told the newly installed IRS commissioner at a fiery committee hearing last week. “But if I can’t trust the IRS—the IRS—to keep records, I don’t have much faith in the Geek Squad’s competence or independence, either. The enemy of my enemy is my friend—and Snowden has few friends in the administration these days.”
After Issa hauled Commissioner John Koskinen over the coals for failing to raise his right hand high enough while swearing to tell the truth, he accused Koskinen of lying. Said Issa, “You worked to cover up the fact that there were missing emails and came forward to fess up on Friday afternoon only after you had effectively been caught red-handed.”
In fact, the committee had been warned last fall that some of the emails had been lost, an incident that Koskinen hardly found surprising “in light of the aged equipment IRS employees often have to use in light of the continual cuts in its budget these past four years.”
Continued Koskinen, “I did not say I would provide you emails that disappeared. If you have a magical way for me to do that, I’d be happy to know about it.”
Issa suggested, “Snowden may not have magical powers. He may even be a traitor, but I think we can forgive him his past mistakes if he could only recover this disk and the paper trail leading back to the White House. I’d also be grateful if he could fix this ‘PC load letter’ error on my office printer.”
Issa’s staffers are in the process of drawing up a draft bill to extend whistleblower protections to Snowden. The representative intends to bring it to the House floor later this week.
“This is election-year politics. It’s convenient to have a demon that they can create and point to,” said the lawyer for the former IRS official on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
As for his client, “Lois [Lerner] is currently en route to Russia, taking advantage of some well-deserved rest and relaxation off the hot seat.”