Secret Service under investigation over loss of sensitive files on Metro
The Secret Service is the target of an investigation into an “immense breach” involving the loss of two backup computer tapes left on a Washington, D.C., Metro train that contained sensitive personal information about all agency employees, contacts and overseas informants, according to multiple law enforcement and congressional sources.
The ongoing probe is one of 13 new investigations involving the Secret Service launched by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) in recent months. The new investigations stem from information received during the course of DHS-OIG’s ongoing ‘Culture of Secret Service’ probe, requested by the Senate Homeland Committee in the wake of the Cartagena, Colombia prostitution scandal in April. While these new investigations are ongoing, the Culture of the Secret Service report is expected to be released sometime in the spring.
The Secret Service acknowledged the incident surrounding the lost tapes, but downplayed the security risk.
Sources said the tapes were lost on the Red Line of the Metro in 2008 by a young, low-level associate of a private contracting company that had been hired to transport them from Secret Service’s Investigative Resources Management division at the agency’s headquarters in the Penn Quarter section of Washington, D.C., to a secure vault in Olney, Md., where government agencies store contingency plans, documents and other backup material. The employee had volunteered to deliver the tapes because he lived near the location of the vault, but got off at the Glenmont, Md., Metro stop without the tapes, according to sources.
Sources said the “personally identifiable information” — or “PII,” in government-speak — on the tapes includes combinations of the following: Social Security Numbers; home addresses; information about family members; phone numbers; dates of birth; medical information; bank account numbers; employment information; driver’s license numbers; passport numbers; and any biometric information on file with the Secret Service.