DHS Inspector General Knew About Deleted Texts a Year Ago


Something is very wrong in the Secret Service, and it’s leaking into other departments within the government, even under Biden. The DHS Inspector General knew of the critical January 6th, 2021, deleted texts over a year ago and didn’t flag the issue and report it to the Secretary, the FBI, or the White House, a sign of institutional trouble.

One of the most obvious red flags that democracy is slipping toward fascism is the politicization of critically independent intelligence, police, and security services. Trump likely knew or just instinctually sensed that basic fact when he recruited and placed former Secret Service agent Tony Ornato as deputy chief of staff. The move automatically politicized at least a part of the Secret Service. Agents trained and working under Ornato would still see him as a leader and naturally be sympathetic to his cause. The recruitment itself meant that Trump had been talking politics with his detail, something absolutely verboten under a normal adult administration. Asking about kids and normal life with the agents around you? Yes. Talking politics? Absolutely not.

All of which has led to a department that could not turn a 180 and become neutral again when President Biden took office. Now we are suffering the consequences.

Trump created an administration with as many loyalists as possible, and that especially applied to the inspectors general, the neutral “Internal Affairs” group within each department. They are supposed to be entirely independent, with no fraternization, shared duty, or common cause, an office created to keep the department lawful.

Now we have DHS’s own inspector general’s office functioning – at least to the outside world – as protective of the Trump administration and its potential criminality. According to CNN,

The embattled inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security first learned of missing Secret Service text messages in May 2021 — months earlier than previously known and more than a year before he alerted the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, that potentially crucial information may have been erased, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

An independent and competent inspector general’s office would have immediately recognized the problem and informed superiors that something was horrendously wrong. An independent and competent inspector general would have no fear whatsoever in reporting the recklessness or intentional deletion the moment he or she became aware the problem. This was not the case.

Earlier this month, Secret Service officials told congressional committees that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, the department’s independent watchdog, was aware that texts had been erased in December 2021. But sources tell CNN, the Secret Service had notified Cuffari’s office of missing text messages in May 2021, seven months earlier.

And there it is. If the inspector general had been doing the job as outlined in the position’s description, that person would have likely called the FBI that day. Of course, that assumes that the inspector general’s office had nothing to hide, and again, Trump appointed loyalists to the positions.

The Secret Service now says the texts were lost as a result of a previously scheduled data migration of its agents’ cell phones that began on January 27, 2021, exactly three weeks after the attack on the US Capitol. After the data migration was completed, in May 2021 the Secret Service told Cuffari’s office that they tried to contact a cellular provider to retrieve the texts when they realized they were lost, a source told CNN.

A third grader would realize that a real neutral Secret Service would, as a routine matter of course, know that not only should they not “destroy” or “delete” any information pertaining to that day, but that the information was invaluable to the agency itself. Whether it is the FBI, the military, or the Secret Service, creating “after action” reports on any unusual or significant occurrence is standard practice to evaluate tactics and results. These texts should have been protected like the crown jewels by the Secret Service. They could analyze their response to an emergency of the type that isn’t faced in a generation… unless there was a problem, one that needed to be hidden, lest people go to prison.

The entire Secret Service now needs to be fumigated, near disbanded, and reformed. There is almost nothing trustworthy about the agency itself. It would be a waste of time to go individual by individual and evaluate their performance and history. It is almost (but not entirely) necessary to start over. This is intolerable and perhaps one of the most significant findings in the Select Committee’s investigation.  Criminal charges best be coming, or just forget trying to have independent law enforcement agencies. Keep sliding toward fascism.

 

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