Law enforcement association warns officers of criminal exposure after Secret Service shares personal cellphone numbers with investigators – KION546


By Whitney Wild and Jamie Gangel, CNN

The trade association that defends federal law enforcement agents warned members of the US Secret Service on Tuesday that their personal phone numbers the agency recently released “will likely be used” in a criminal investigation, according to a report. copy of a letter sent to officers and obtained. by CNN.

Last week, CNN reported that the personal cell phone numbers of Secret Service agents had been provided to government watchdogs investigating on January 6. The decision to hand over the officers’ home phone numbers is highly unusual and came after exam weeks on suppressed secret services text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021.

“The exact numbers that were provided, to whom, and for what purpose have yet to be determined, however, the information will likely be used for a criminal investigation of the USSS employee,” the letter from Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

The letter was addressed to all members of the Secret Service who are members of FLEOA.

The letter reminds agents that Secret Service attorneys represent the interests of the organization over the individual and encourages them to seek legal counsel from FLEOA if anyone attempts to contact them about personal records.

Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, lambasted the Secret Service in a statement Monday.

“This is a classic display of self-preservation and a desperate attempt by leaders to cover up their own failures at the expense of the trust and safety of their employees,” Cosme wrote in a public statement Monday. .

“Personal information should be protected by agencies at all costs, and withheld when practical to conceal leadership errors,” Cosme wrote.

CNN first reported that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari informed the Secret Service on July 20 that the investigation into the missing text messages was a criminal investigation.

Chronology of missing texts

July 14, Cuffari revealed to lawmakers the Secret Service lost text messages due to a data migration that wiped out employees’ phones. A Secret Service spokesperson said the data migration began weeks after the January 6 uprising, on January 27, 2021. About a month later, Inspector General investigators made the first of several requests for information, but by that time some text messages had been lost. .

However, Cuffari has drew the ire of lawmakers who said he had not given them an honest account of his investigative efforts and repeatedly called for him to be removed from the Secret Service and DHS data loss investigation.

CNN previously reported that Cuffari was informed in May 2021 that the data migration resulted in the loss of text messages. Additionally, Cuffari investigators told DHS in July 2021 that the agency was no longer looking for Secret Service text messages, as CNN first reported.

The revelations, along with reports that an assistant inspector general changed language in a memo to suggest the agencies were cooperating, prompted lawmakers on the House Oversight and House Homeland Security committees to accuse Cuffari’s office of a possible cover-up and requiring records and interviews with key officials from the DHS Inspector General’s Office.

CNN previously reported that Secret Service employees were instructed and reminded to back up their devices twice before a phone migration, making it clear that the onus is on the individual to do so.

A letter released Wednesday by House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson to the Secret Service indicates that notifications were sent to employees on January 14, 2021, and then again on January 25, 2021, but that employees were not explicitly asked to keep text messages.

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