Hold those texts! Defense Department orders all federal employees to save mobile phone records

Hold those texts! Defense Department orders all federal employees to save mobile phone records

August 5, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

The memo emphasized that text messages are considered a record that qualifies under preservation laws stipulated in the Federal Records Act. Hicks also ordered a department-wide review in conjunction with the department’s chief information officer and other members of military leadership. This review is intended to determine whether the department has been compliant. Hicks set a 30-day deadline for assessments to come back. 

“This information provides evidence of government organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other official activities, or is of value to the Department.”

Records Management Memo Pentagon DoD by Daily Kos on Scribd

Text messages from two dozen Secret Service officials have gone missing, as well as texts from former acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli. 

An investigation into missing texts from Defense Department officials, including former secretary Chris Miller, his deputy Kashyap “Kash” Patel, and former U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, among others, have been requested by the Senate Judiciary Committee and its chair, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

The Jan. 6 committee, meanwhile, has called for the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, Joseph Cuffari, to recuse himself from a probe into the missing Secret Service and DHS texts. 

Calls for Cuffari to step away from the investigation or remove himself entirely from his role have mounted in recent days. On Friday, The Independent reported that sources close to the Biden administration have indicated that President Joe Biden has not yet ruled out whether Cuffari should be fired. The DHS inspector general was first appointed by former President Donald Trump and is one of many federal watchdogs appointed by the former president still working in their oversight positions. 

Biden’s openness to axing Cuffari is a shift in what White House press secretary Karen-Jean Pierre said just 24 hours earlier during a press conference. 

“Look, the President has been very clear—I think I answered some of this yesterday—that he believes in the independent role of the Inspector Generals and that they serve an important function in ensuring accountability for the American people. That still stands. He believes that,” she said Thursday.

A representative for the White House did not immediately return a request for comment to Daily Kos on Friday.

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