Secret Service Director Apologizes, Disciplines Agents for Attempts to Discredit Congressman
At a Congressional hearing Tuesday, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy apologized once more for the actions of his staff, and laid out the agency’s plan to discipline the individuals who allegedly violated the Privacy Act, DHS policy, and Secret Service policy in an effort to discredit a congressman investigating misconduct within the agency.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report finding that 45 Secret Service employees illegally accessed Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s personally identifiable information on an internal Secret Service database more than 50 times.
The agents also floated news of Chaffetz’ unsuccessful application to the Secret Service in 2003 to the media. To top it off, 18 senior Secret Service heads knew this was going on and failed to thwart the efforts, or alert Director Clancy.
The hearing, composed of members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, and the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, examined how a top federal law enforcement agency could fail to identify myriad unauthorized accesses of sensitive personal information.
“A hearing like this puts a definitive stamp on our failures,” Joseph Clancy told members of the committees. “I’ve heard the comments made today — ‘reprehensible, disturbing, embarrassing.’ I agree with everything that has been said here today and my workforce does as well.”
The Homeland Security Department proposed 3 to 12 days’ suspension for approximately 42 employees who fall under the General Schedule, Clancy said. DHS has yet to announce disciplinary measures for the senior executives involved. Those could range from a letter of reprimand to removal, he said.
Some lawmakers believe the disciplinary actions are too lenient. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., chairman of the subcommittee on oversight and management efficiency, expressed disbelief that agents weren't facing more serious consequences.
"The most we can hope for the most disciplinary, the toughest disciplinary action right now is not a loss or revocation of your security clearance, is not a loss of your employment -- it's 12 days suspension. I just want to be clear, is that correct?"
While he did not dispute Perry’s questions, he did assure Congress that his agency has new managers and a new system to protect data.
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