Everyone knows they should back up absolutely vital files onto external media before they swap out a laptop, phone or another device.
So forgive us for being a tad — maybe more than that — skeptical about the Secret Service saying it “lost” texts from Jan. 6 and Jan. 7, 2021, that had already been requested by the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
We’re also skeptical about why the Department of Homeland Security also “lost” the text messages of Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli for a key period leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, as the Washington Post reported. The DHS said the texts were lost as government phones were reset when the two left their jobs in January 2021.
The latest developments remind us of the doubts we had about that gap of seven hours and 37 minutes in White House phone logs that would show which calls were placed to or from former President Donald Trump as the insurrection at the Capitol was unfolding. In the Watergate scandal, the missing information from White House tapes was only 18½ minutes.
Do we hear people muttering “cover-up”? Or “obstruction of justice?”
Especially because the office of DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, which reportedly knew about the deleted Secret Service texts for months, failed to notify Congress at a time when there might have been a better chance to recover the lost records.
Moreover, the Washington Post reported, the IG pulled the plug on its investigators’ effort to collect Secret Service phones to try to recover the missing texts. Cuffari, a Trump appointee, is under investigation, too, by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, though the reason has not been made public.
The Secret Service says its messages were lost as part of a phone system replacement planned months earlier. Would an excuse like that have worked as an alibi for not turning in your homework back in the sixth grade? Not likely. It’s a step below saying your dog ate your homework.
Anyone in Washington surely knows federal records should not be deleted, even without a congressional committee asking for them to be preserved. Even at a small company, the tech people would back everything up before attempting a systemwide data migration.
Yet these records went missing in the hands of the people who were in charge of the nation’s security.
We have to ask: What was in the all these missing records that was worse than weathering criticism over their disappearance?
With 78 years to go, it’s too soon to declare this the worst government scandal of the 21st century. Let’s hope nothing else more outrageous comes along.
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