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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 01, 2015

 
Do you know what's in your file?

by digby


After his abysmal performance in those Planned Parenthood hearings I dislike Congressman Jason Chaffetz with something of a passion. Nonetheless, this is absolutely, unequivocally wrong and heads should roll over it:

The Secret Service’s assistant director urged that unflattering information the agency had in its files about a congressman critical of the service should be made public, according to a government watchdog report released Wednesday.

“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director on March 31, commenting on an internal file that was being widely circulated inside the service. “Just to be fair.”

Two days later, a news Web site reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected.

That information was part of Chaffetz’s personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private.

The report by John Roth, inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, singled out Lowery, in part because of his senior position at the agency. The report also cited Lowery’s e-mail as the one piece of documentary evidence showing the degree of anger inside the agency at Chaffetz and the desire for the information to be public.

Lowery had been promoted to the post of assistant director for training just a month earlier as part of an effort that Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy said would reform the agency after a series of high-profile security lapses. Clancy had tapped Lowery to join a slate of new leaders he installed after removing more than two-thirds of the previous senior management team.

During the IG’s probe, Lowery denied to investigators that he directed anyone to leak the private information about Chaffetz to the press and said his e-mail was simply a vent for his stress and anger.

The Chaffetz file, contained in the restricted database, had been peeked at by about 45 Secret Service agents, some of whom shared it with their colleagues in March and April, the report found. This prying began after a contentious March 24 House hearing at which Chaffetz scolded the director and the agency for its series of security gaffes and misconduct. The hearing sparked anger inside the agency.

The IG’s inquiry found the Chaffetz information was spread to nearly every layer of the service.

Staff in the most senior headquarters offices, the president’s protective detail, the public affairs office, the office of investigations, and field offices in Sacramento, Charlotte, Dallas and other cities all accessed Chaffetz’s file — and many acknowledged sharing it widely, according to the report. The day after the March 24 hearing, one agent who had been sent to New York for the visit of the president of Afghanistan recalled that nearly all of the 70 agents at a briefing were discussing it.

All told, 18 supervisors, including assistant directors, the deputy director and even Clancy’s chief of staff knew the information was being widely shared through agency offices, the report said.

“These agents work for an agency whose motto — ‘Worthy of trust and confidence’ — is engraved in marble in the lobby of their headquarters building,” Roth wrote in his summary report. “Few could credibly argue that the agents involved in this episode lived up to this motto.”

After reviewing the IG report, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the Oversight Committee’s ranking Democratic member, said he was “deeply troubled” by what Roth’s team uncovered and said Clancy should remove staff who have shown themselves to “unwilling or unable to meet the highest ethical standards.”

Every one of the agents who looked at the file and who shared it should be fired. otherwise, it's just another sign that our police agencies are running amock and using information in their databases for political purposes. If you think it couldn't happen to you or someone you like, you should reconsider. The government is collecting and storing information on everyone.


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