Watchdog: Top Secret Service official wanted information about Chaffetz made …

1 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP Investigation: Secret Service Tried to Discredit Congressman Probing Agency Shenanigans.

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.

Secret Service employees improperly accessed the decade-old, unsuccessful job application of a congressman who was investigating scandals inside the agency, a new government report said Wednesday. 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. 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.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson personally apologized to Chaffetz again Wednesday, the congressman told The Associated Press in an interview on Capitol Hill. 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. Johnson did not disclose whether any employees had been punished. “It’s intimidating,” Chaffetz said. “It’s what it was supposed to be.” Employees accessed Chaffetz’s 2003 application for a Secret Service job starting 18 minutes after the start of a congressional hearing in March about the latest scandal involving drunken behavior by senior agents.

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. 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. The Secret Service takes employee misconduct very seriously, and as I have stated before, any employee, regardless of rank or seniority, who has committed misconduct will be held accountable. This incident will be no different and I will ensure the appropriate disciplinary actions are taken. “On behalf of the men and women of the United States Secret Service, I again apologize to Representative Chaffetz for this wholly avoidable and embarrassing misconduct. Additionally, I will continue to review policies and practices to address employee misconduct and demand the highest level of integrity of all our employees.” After reviewing the IG report, the Oversight Committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep.

During the March hearing, Clancy testified for the third time about an incident weeks earlier in which two senior agents were accused of drinking for several hours at a bar before driving a government vehicle into the White House complex, as on-duty personnel were investigating a suspicious item dropped on a roadway near the White House. Clancy took the helm of the agency on a temporary basis late last year after then-Director Julia Pierson was ousted after the disclosure of two security breaches, including an incident in which a man armed with a knife was able to scale a White House fence and run deep into the executive mansion.

Today’s findings by the Inspector General go directly against this goal and are completely and utterly unacceptable and indefensible,” Cummings said in a statement. Even Clancy chief of staff Michael Biermann and Deputy Director Craig Magaw had been privy to the information, the report said, but did not alert Clancy. Experts also expressed concerns that it could deter internal whistleblowers from coming forward with additional allegations of misconduct, for fear of retribution by their bosses.

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