By Carol D. Leonnig and Jerry Markon,
An assistant director of the Secret Service urged that unflattering information the agency had in its files about a congressman ­critical of the service should be made public, according to a government watchdog report released Wednesday.
“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director on March 31, commenting on an internal file that was being widely circulated inside the service. “Just to be fair.”
Two days later, a news Web site reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected.
That information was part of a Chaffetz personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private.
[Secret Service officials allowed to participate in probe of leak by agency]
The report by John Roth, inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, singled out Lowery, in part because of his senior position at the agency. The report also cited Lowery’s e-mail as the one piece of documentary evidence showing the degree of anger inside the agency at Chaffetz and the desire for the information to be public.
Lowery had been promoted to the post of assistant director for training just a month earlier as part of an effort that Secret Ser­vice Director Joseph Clancy said would reform the agency after a series of high-profile security lapses. Clancy had tapped Lowery to join a slate of new leaders he installed after removing more than two-thirds of the previous senior management team.
During the inspector general’s probe, Lowery denied to investigators that he directed anyone to leak the private information about Chaffetz to the press and said his e-mail was simply a vent for his stress and anger.
The Chaffetz file, contained in the restricted database, had been peeked at by about 45 Secret Service agents, some of whom shared it with their colleagues in March and April, the report found. This prying began after a contentious March 24 House hearing at which Chaffetz scolded the director and the agency for its series of security gaffes and misconduct. The ­hearing sparked anger inside the ­agency.
The inspector general’s inquiry found that the …Read More