Forty-One Secret Service Employees Punished For Illegally Accessing Congressman's Private Data In Hopes Of Discrediting Him

from the apparently,-the-Secret-Service-employs-a-lot-of-tiny,-easily-bruised-children dept

When Rep. Jason Chaffetz began asking the Secret Service about its string of high-profile failures, agents were quick to respond… with attempts to undermine the Congressman's credibility. Eighteen minutes after the hearings started, Secret Service agents -- dozens of them -- began poring through his 2003 Secret Service application in hopes of finding a few skeletons in his previously-vetted closet.

Even Secret Service Assistant Director Ed Lowery got in on the illegal fun, suggesting via email that "some information [Chaffetz] finds embarrassing needs to get out." Information did get out, but it had no effect on Chaffetz's reputation. The only people embarassed were the Secret Service and DHS head Jeh Johnson, who was forced to apologize on its behalf.

Johnson's press release, detailing the results of the DHS's investigation of the incident, shows dozens were questioned about this violation of the Privacy Act. Better yet, it shows dozens were punished for their misconduct.

In all, the conduct of 57 Secret Service personnel was reviewed, including 11 at the SES [Senior Executive Service] level. Of those, 41 are receiving some level of discipline. This discipline includes a letter of reprimand to one individual, suspended discipline contingent on no further misconduct for a period of five years, and suspensions from duty without pay for periods of up to 45 days. The one individual found by the Inspector General to have disclosed the private information to an outside source, the Washington Post, has resigned from the Secret Service.

As is often the case, the employee whose misconduct was the worst slipped out the door before the hammer could come down. As for the rest, the sheer number of Secret Service personnel involved shows this agency is no less susceptible to peer pressure and bandwagon jumping than the occupants of the average high school locker room.

Rest assured, this sort of misconduct won't rear its ugly head again, because top Secret Service officials say Things are being Done.

Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service. From Director Clancy, I have been told that tighter processes are now in place to limit access to personally identifiable information and to highlight for employees the consequences of a breach of that data.

I'd love to know what these "tighter processes" are. Hopefully it's something more than post-login clickwrap saying something to the effect of "user agrees to abide by all policies and statutes" with an "OK" button being the only thing standing between them and dirt on legislators they don't like.


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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 8 Jun 2016 @ 2:24pm

    Secret Service Apology

    I sincerely regret that those who were harmed by our actions had to discover that the Secret Service was to blame.

    I ask for your patience. Something Is Being Doneā„¢. I promise that in the future the Secret Service will not get caught doing anything like this ever again.

    We at the Secret Service are deeply sorry that bad judgment and poor choice of actions resulted in personal embarrassment for past and present SS employees, and other outside parties and contractors who assisted in committing this crime.

    We at the SS take full responsibility for our negligence and lack of diligent care to ensure that we would not get caught. You have my personal assurance that the Secrete Service will exercise much greater and more diligent care in the future.

    To Rep. Jason Chaffetz and any others who were hurt by the Secret Service inappropriate, thoughtless and illegal actions I would like to humbly offer my sincerest indifference.

    Thank you

    Jeh Johnson

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2016 @ 2:46pm

    Silly peasants...

    you need to mind your own business and let your betters do their thing!

    Messing with the king's guard might get you into trouble!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2016 @ 10:56pm

      Re: Silly peasants...

      Stop right there, criminal scum!

      Ah, you work for the Jarl, eh? Well, I guess I'm going to have to let you off this time. Just don't do it again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2016 @ 2:54pm

    wow, suspensions without pay instead of actual jail time will certainly teach them not to get caught next time instead of not breaking the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2016 @ 3:33pm

      Re:

      When something happens on as massive a scale as 57 persons, of which 41 are punishable, it involves more levels of the command than 2. 57 independent breaches is statistically improbable, thus the actions were coordinated and had some level of pre-arangement for happening. That kind of problem is not going to get fixed by a slap on the wrist or a friendly talk. As long as this kind of thing has happened for a politician somewhat responsible for their oversight, nobody can see themself safe for such "collution to defame" since their understanding of "target" is gone!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2016 @ 4:32pm

        Re: Re:

        57 - 41 = 16.

        Less the 11 Senior Executive Service level people, that leaves 5 other people getting exonerated.

        ... because of course the SES level people will be exonerated en masse, because That's How It Is Done.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2016 @ 3:22pm

    Let's be honest

    The 'punishment' has nothing to do with what they did, and everything to do with the fact that it didn't work and they got caught. Had it been brought to their attention in a way that they could brush it under the rug you can be absolutely sure that they would have, without even a hint of 'Mistakes were made, and we'll try to do better' face saving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    J.R., 8 Jun 2016 @ 3:43pm

    Duh

    And I bet we're supposed to believe no other agencies with access to data have ever or will ever do anything like this.... Uh, right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Jun 2016 @ 4:22pm

    Vetted?

    This makes me wonder why a congresscritter needs vetting at all. They were elected, no security agency has ANY say in that matter.

    They may believe that they might think about withholding some formation because they did not pass some secret test. However, I do not believe that that is anybodies decision but the voters. And if this is an interbranch thingy, executive vs legislative, the the executive needs to get a life.

    If some congresscritter has in fact done something wrong, then build a case and bring charges, as has been done in the past. This Micky Mouse (FU Disney) bullshit is purely political and agencies have no business in politics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Fox2!, 15 Jun 2016 @ 7:15pm

      Re: Vetted?

      Apparently, Rep Chaffetz had unsuccessfully applied for a position with the Secret Service. That's what the "vetting" is from, not his service as an elected member of Congress.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 8 Jun 2016 @ 5:07pm

    how deep in the rabbit hole ? ? ?

    *this* deep:
    that the feebs, ess ess, state troopers, local kops, alphabet spooks, etc, time, after time, After Time, AFTER TIME *ARE* caught violating oaths and laws and regulations and guidelines and first grade morality in ABUSING these types (in this case, an 'in house' document of sorts) of mass collected information that is arguably unconstitutional to start with, and costly and ineffective to end with; BUT, will still maintain such power/info will NOT be abused, and they absolutely need it to stop the pedo-terrorist-commie-atheist-dee-rug-kingpin who is hiding in your closet, boo...
    trust us...
    ? ? ?
    the state HAS abused this power and info slurping; the state/LEO are NOT to be trusted; theyt have NOT PROVEN trustworthy...
    repeatedly, constantly, insistently and unrepentant...
    they hardly pretend to be aghast that someone in their charge violated law/regulations/etc; a forbearance and forgiveness which is not meted out to non-blue folks for any number of comparable offenses against the state...

    oh, that is if you were *really* concerned about crime,
    terrorism, etc; and NOT *really* concerned about 99% of the population itching to pull their pitchforks and torches out of the garage...

    The They (tm) better not stop the bread and circuses, or the hoi polloi may get more than restive...

    'kardashian' is 'merika's "Squirrel!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2016 @ 5:23pm

    Compare and contrast

    Try to liberate published academic papers in order to further the spread of knowledge: federal criminal charges backed up with bullying sufficient to drive one to suicide.

    Violate privacy of citizen, engage in obvious retaliation, access information without authorization, leak private data to the press, denigrate the standing of a vital government agency: meh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tortured for My Faith, 9 Jun 2016 @ 8:27am

      Re: Compare and contrast

      Who was it that turned the word 'suicide' from a noun to a verb? I think its someone campaigning out there.

      I'm k i d d i n g

      (not really)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2016 @ 7:54pm

    In the private sector...

    things like this get people fired. In law enforcement they get letters and vacations. At least the vacations weren't paid this time (or so they say).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2016 @ 3:12am

    Dept. of Humble Servants

    Translation of Fatherland Security statement:

    "...bullshit...fuck you...bullshit...fuck you...bullshit...pay me."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tortured For My Faith, 9 Jun 2016 @ 8:14am

    I'm disappointed

    Shouldn't this news of the Secret Service's malice have been kept a secret? Someone is not doing their job correcectly.. No worry, I'm sure someone will open up the pardon gate.

    Malice is contemptable. SUE EM

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kevin, 9 Jun 2016 @ 9:19am

    Ordinary people

    We don't want to believe it. We want to believe we're being protected by super-heroes. We invent them. Matt Dillon. KOJACK. Law and Order. There are hundreds of them.

    But the fact is that cops are no better than anyone else, except we wive them A LOT of power. And power corrupts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kevin, 9 Jun 2016 @ 9:20am

    Ordinary people

    We don't want to believe it. We want to believe we're being protected by super-heroes. We invent them. Matt Dillon. KOJACK. Law and Order. There are hundreds of them.

    But the fact is that cops are no better than anyone else, except we we've them A LOT of power. And power corrupts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    do unto them, 9 Jun 2016 @ 10:24am

    two words

    excited delirium

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Disgusted Denny, 9 Jun 2016 @ 11:17am

    Compare and contrast:

    Aaron Schwartz:

    Activity: Downloaded a bunch of academic journals from computers he had no authorization to access (and whose owners declined to press charges)

    Intent: To distribute scientific and technical knowledge to a wider audience.

    Punishment: Vastly overreaching prosecution aiming for many years in prison and huge fines that drove Schwartz to suicide.

    Secret Service agents:

    Activity: Illegally accessed the computerized records of a sitting U.S. Congressman engaged in investigating bad behavior of SS agents

    Intent: To try to find dirt on the Congressman in order to intimidate him, exact revenge and discredit him and to undermine an investigation funded by taxpayers

    Punishment: ...a letter of reprimand to one individual, suspended discipline contingent on no further misconduct for a period of five years, and suspensions from duty without pay for periods of up to 45 days.

    In other (future) news, President Obama pardoned Hillary Clinton today for several crimes related to unauthorized use of unsecure servers, as well as for lying to federal officials and suborning others to commit perjury and destroy evidence. Go Hillary!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2016 @ 1:11pm

      Re:

      If those others wouldn't be willing to commit perjury they'd end up dead just like all those other Clinton acquaintances. Strange isn't it. Almost like there's something not right about what's going on.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 9 Jun 2016 @ 11:57am

    Now then... about the one that got away...

    "The one individual found by the Inspector General to have disclosed the private information to an outside source, the Washington Post, has resigned from the Secret Service."


    Of course, we can safely assume that this particular individual would, indeed, most certainly have been promptly arrested and tried -- if not for the fact that this person managed to flee beyond the reach of the law and the authorities, to safe haven in Russia before those in charge realized anything was amiss and cancelled that rule-breaking, oath-betraying individual's American passport?

    We can... Right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    robertsgt40 (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 10:12am

    Stalin would be so proud.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    walter, 10 Jun 2016 @ 12:57pm

    TEAR DOWN THAT FENCE! Why is Congress worrying about a fence around the White House .....when the White House has torn down the fence around this Nation?! If WE do not deserve a fence to protect OUR FAMILIES ..... then, NEITHER DOES HE.
    http://investmentwatchblog.com/america-we-are-in-a-damn-street-fight-with-your-elected-officials/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    fdfd, 10 Jun 2016 @ 7:34pm

    Holy shit these fucking cowardly losers are such failures it's unreal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zen (profile), 14 Jun 2016 @ 1:28pm

    Not as bad as I expected.

    The information was his decades old application to join the secret service and the fact that he didn't get the job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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