Secret Service Director James Murray sent an agency-wide memo on Tuesday, the details of which were first reported by CNN, informing employees that they are considering temporarily suspending use of the messages until the agency fixes loopholes in how they are stored. to the sources who described the memo.
Although the agency said it was cooperating with the inspector general and that the messages were lost due to a pre-planned migration of phone data in 2021, In January, the announcement is the latest sign that the Secret Service sees a need to change its data practices in the wake of the Jan. 6 hack. messages.
One of the sources said that Secret Service leadership has made it clear that it will not end the use of text messages without first understanding the impact it might have on Secret Service agents. For example, agency staff text with local police officers, one source said, and the agency would not want to lose that line of communication.
The concern, the source said, is that shutting down the agency’s messaging capabilities entirely could undermine the Secret Service’s security capabilities.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Secret Service declined to comment.
The Secret Service and DHS, as well as the Defense Department, faced questions about the missing messages around Jan. 6 as Congress, government watchdogs and the National Archives demanded answers about how the messages were deleted. The DHS inspector general told the Secret Service last month that his office is conducting a criminal investigation into the potentially deleted text messages.
According to one source, the Secret Service memo says the agency has a four-point plan to prevent data loss and meet record-keeping obligations. The memo said there were legal and security reasons why the agency’s text messages were not backed up on the server, but it said significant efforts were being made to bridge the gap between technological capabilities and record-keeping requirements.
The Secret Service’s chief information officer and the Executive Resources Board plan to evaluate the benefits and impact of suspending the use of text messages until a technological solution is found, the memo said.
The effort will also focus on a plan for a new Secret Service director, as Murray had planned to retire before saying he would remain in his role until a new director is named.