The admission that Pentagon officials’ phones were wiped was revealed for the first time in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by US censors against the Department of Defense and the Army. The monitoring group is seeking Jan. 6 records from former Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, former Chief of Staff Cash Patel, and former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, among other senior Pentagon officials — after they filed initial Freedom of Information Act requests just days after the Capitol attack. .
Miller, Patel, and McCarthy are seen as important witnesses to understanding the government’s response to the January 6 Capitol attack and former President Donald Trump’s response to the breach. All three participated in the Defense Department’s response to sending National Guard troops into the U.S. Capitol as riots erupted. There is no indication that the officials themselves cleared the records.
The government’s assertion in the filings that officials’ text messages from that day were not preserved is the latest blow to efforts to bring transparency to the events of January 6th. Missing letters from the Secret Service that day.
Miller declined to comment. Patel and McCarthy did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Pentagon and military also did not respond to requests for comment.
The US watchdog is now calling for a “cross-agency investigation” by the Department of Justice to investigate the material’s destruction.
“It is amazing to think that the agency did not understand the importance of preserving its records – in particular [with regards] To senior officials who may have been arrested: What were they doing, when they were doing it, why were they doing that that day,” Heather Sawyer, executive director of US censorship, told CNN.
Sawyer said her organization learned the records were not preserved from government attorneys last spring, and that acknowledgment was then memorialized in a joint case report filed with the court in March.
The government said in the filing: “The Ministry of Defense and the Army have informed the plaintiff that when an employee separates from the Ministry of Defense or the Army, he turns over the government-issued phone, and the phone is erased.” “For those trustees who are no longer with the agency, text messages are not retained and therefore cannot be searched, although certain text messages can be saved to other records systems such as email.”
The admission of not keeping records has gained new prominence in the wake of the ongoing scandal over the loss of Secret Service agents’ texts since January 6.
“It only reveals a widespread lack of taking seriously the obligation to keep records, to ensure accountability, and to ensure accountability to their partners in the legislature and to the American people,” Sawyer said.
This story is down and will be updated.
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