Lawmakers Tracking Loss of Clinton-Era Data
The acting director of the National Archives and Records Administration will not appear tomorrow before a House subcommittee to explain the possible theft of a hard drive with one terabyte's worth of sensitive data from the Clinton administration, according to congressional staffers. Lawmakers instead will receive regular updates from the NARA inspector general's office as they continue their investigation.
Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee learned yesterday that the hard drive went missing from the National Archives facility in College Park, Md. sometime between last October and March of this year. In response, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member on the panel, asked that acting archivist Adrienne Thomas appear tomorrow before a previously scheduled subcommittee hearing on NARA matters.
NARA is still unsure what exactly was on the drive, but in a statement Issa said it contains national security information, more than 100,000 social security numbers, contact information for various Clinton administration officials, Secret Service and White House operating procedures, event logs, social gathering logs and political records. Whatever the information, there's plenty of it, since one terabyte of data is the equivalent of millions of books.
The hard drive was moved from a “secure” storage area to a workspace while NARA staff worked to convert the information for archival purposes, according to Issa's statement. At least 100 staffers and janitors, visitors and interns had access to the area, located near bathrooms.
“This egregious breach raises significant questions regarding the effectiveness of the security protocols that are in place at the National Archives and Records Administration,” Issa said. “Acting Director Thomas should appear before the committee either voluntarily or via subpoena on Thursday to explain how such an outrageous breach of security happened.”
Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that "The Committee will do everything possible to prevent compromising the integrity of the FBI’s criminal investigation while we fulfill our Constitutional duty to investigate the compromised security protocols at the National Archives and work to prevent future incidents."
Towns will not ask Thomas to appear before the subcommittee tomorrow, despite requests from Republican members, who want a full accounting of Thomas's tenure and are eager to learn what other data, if any, are missing. The subcommittee on information policy, census, and national security archives is scheduled to meet tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET to discuss issues that President Obama should consider in selecting the next archivist to lead NARA.
Former president Bill Clinton's office was made aware of the situation, but has been asked not to discuss it as the criminal investigation continues, according to spokesman Matt McKenna. Staff has requested that NARA provide a full accounting of the information on the drive.
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