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Lawmakers Tracking Loss of Clinton-Era Data

By Ed O'Keefe

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.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 20, 2009; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress  
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Start looking in McLean with Dick Cheney. After all the Federal Court System just covered up exposure for all the missing emails from the GW Bush era.

Posted by: PowerpeaceMaster | May 20, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

That is quite the ignorant statement. First of all, you are under assumption that it is the fault of the republican's that top secret information regarding a DEMOCRATS time in office is missing. This is also much more than just e-mails. I am not sure about you, but I would be much more concerned if Secret Service procedures, social security numbers, and contact information for high powered officials went missing. Apples and Oranges my friend. Perhaps you should stop believing everything you read and see on TV. Republican does not mean Devil. In fact, why is it that the republicans are asking for the Archivist to appear before the panel tomorrow, but the Democrats are saying there is no need? What are the democrats hiding? More e-mails between the president and interns? Should they go to Al Gore's residence and start looking for everything that is missing?

Posted by: capsfan55 | May 20, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

The current administration has promised transparency to the American people. As long as it implicates the evil doing of the Bush administration.
It seems strange that at a time when some officials want full disclosure of Clinton era policies on rendition flights and treatment of terror suspects, some of that information may now be "missing".
I am not a conspiracy theorist by nature, but the timing is strange. The fact that some on the left are beating the drums for prosecution of former policy makers doesn't really help the case, in my opinion.

Posted by: mmixon27 | May 21, 2009 5:46 AM | Report abuse

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