Security Experts Aren't Buying FBI's "Misconfiguration" Excuse


How does the most sophisticated law enforcement agency in the world “lose” five months of text messages in an important case?

That’s what Republicans and, increasingly, the American public want to know about the FBI. As questions emerged about the strong anti-Trump bias of investigators, the bureau claimed to have misplaced key evidence… but third-party security experts aren’t buying the official story.

“The FBI may have ignored its own data storage procedures as it lost five months of text messages between two anti-Trump FBI employees, security analysts said,” The Washington Times reported.

“I can’t say that I ever saw anything like this during my time with the FBI,” declared Don Vilfer, a former government agent who is now a computer forensics expert in the private sector.

“It’s an anomaly that something like this would happen,” he elaborated.

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That “anomaly” is becoming more puzzling as the text message saga unfolds. The FBI claims that it had the possibly incriminating messages, then lost them, before its parent agency found them again.

“The FBI was expected to provide Congress with a new batch of texts that the couple exchanged from Dec. 14, 2016, to May 17, 2017,” explained the Times. At least one of those messages apparently referred to a mysterious “secret society” of FBI employees who opposed Donald Trump.

“But the agency told lawmakers over the weekend that ‘misconfiguration issues’ caused a loss of the texts,” continued that report.

If that vague excuse sounds flimsy, you’re not alone: in addition to security experts like Don Vilfer, officials including Trey Gowdy also expressed skepticism about the FBI’s version of events.

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“[T]hese recently produced documents cause us to further question the credibility and objectivity of certain officials at the FBI,” declared a joint statement signed by Gowdy, of South Carolina, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and California Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.

“The claim that five months of critical evidence went missing due to a technical glitch is really hard to take at face value,” a source from the Intelligence Committee admitted to Fox News earlier this week.

Then, on Thursday, the latest twist: The “missing” text message evidence was supposedly recovered after all. How convenient.

“Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his office ‘succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices, including text messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page that were sent or received between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017,’” Fox News reported.

It’s worth pointing out that those “forensic tools” are usually only needed for data that was deleted or corrupted. The miraculous “recovery” of the messages only adds to the list of questions surrounding the case: How did the texts go missing in the first place? Were they purposely deleted, and by whom?

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Mistakes do happen, but the comedy of errors within the FBI is making it less and less believable that all of this was just a misunderstanding.

Some 50,000 text messages are not something you “misplace” under the living room couch. It is incredible — literally, beyond credibility — that the premiere investigative agency on the planet didn’t have backups and procedures in place to keep evidence from a national-level inquiry secure.

America is getting tired of this circus… and it’s time to demand answers from public officials who are sworn to serve the people and not political agendas.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.