GLENMONT, Md. (WUSA) --- Secret Service records with private information about the financial, medical, and other personal details of the agency's workers and contacts were left on a Metro subway train here in 2008 and have yet to be recovered, according to reports on various cable news channels Friday.
CNN quotes congressional sources as saying the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security has begun an investigation of the incident but DHS did not return WUSA9 calls asking for confirmation of the inquiry.
The records were reportedly on two computer tapes that were being taken to secure storage in Maryland by a contractor who agreed to move them from agency offices in Washington, D.C.
He apparently left the tapes on the train when it came to the end of the line in Glenmont and he left the train.
"Any time you have that kind of information out there, putting aside, perhaps, identity fraud, you have the potential of setting things up where someone could try to blackmail, coerce or otherwise persuade an agent or officer to perhaps provide some sort of information," said veteran Washington federal employment lawyer Mark Zaid, who has represented Secret Service agents.
"Any time you have a compromise of information that could somehow put into play an agent or an officers vulnerabilities, then you have threat to national security," Zaid told 9News.
The Secret Service issued a statement Friday, saying "In February of 2008, a contract employee whose function was to maintain, secure and transport this type of information lost two "back-up" tapes on the DC Metro while transporting them to an off-site facility. These back-up tapes were not marked or identified in any way and were protected by multiple layers of security. They could not be accessed without the proper equipment, applications and encoding.
The Metropolitan Transit Police were notified of the loss and assisted Secret Service agents searching for the lost tapes. All appropriate entities at DHS were notified, to include DHS-OIG, the Office of the CIO, the Security Operations Center, and the Privacy Office. The Secret Service complied with all guidelines related to loss of information.
Subsequent to this incident, the Secret Service instituted protocols to prevent this from happening again. To date there has been no reported fraud associated with the loss of these tapes."