Does being a top Republican entitle you to a free LifeLock subscription? Asking for a few governors and Trump administration officials, among almost 2,000 others.
According to a report in The Washington Post on Friday, that’s how many individuals had their Social Security numbers doxxed by the House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 committee when it released its records online.
The names were in a spreadsheet of the visitors to the White House in December of 2020. While most of the numbers were redacted, roughly 1,900 numbers belonging to visitors on a certain day in December of 2020 weren’t.
The Post noted that “[w]hile the spreadsheet with the numbers was taken down Wednesday, the high-profile nature of the people whose data was exposed probably puts them at an ‘elevated risk’ because the information would be especially useful to intelligence agencies, said James Lee, chief operating officer of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit organization that advises victims of identity crimes and compromises.
“Lee recommended that people listed follow common tips for victims of identity crimes, including freezing their credit, using a multi-factor authentication app for their online accounts and setting up credit and account monitoring.”
However, it doesn’t help that those whose information was exposed thanks to their visits to the White House don’t seem to have been notified by the Government Publishing Office (GPO).
The most high-profile names that visited on the day in question were GOP Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas, Henry McMaster of South Carolina and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, along with cabinet members Alex Azar, the former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Ben Carson, former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Also included were federal judges and other allies of the former president.
“To my knowledge, we were not notified. The governor was not notified,” said Ian Fury, spokesman for Gov. Noem.
In addition to the governor’s Social Security number being outed, so were the numbers of her husband and three children.
Others, including Abbott, Azar and McMaster, declined to confirm whether their numbers were included in the document, given the privacy concerns.
Carson was among those decrying the leak.
“Whether it was a careless and sloppy handling of records or a deliberate disregard of decorum, either scenario is a perfunctory and callous display of government and a frightening reminder of the current state in Washington,” he said.
“President Reagan was a savant indeed — the nine most frightening words to hear are ‘I am from the government and here to help.’”
In the meantime, those in the government are pointing fingers at one another, with the GPO blaming Congress, the White House implicating the National Archives in a letter written prior to the documents’ release, the National Archives blaming the Jan. 6 committee and the committee staying silent.
As for the GPO, its spokesman said the office “does not edit or alter materials provided by Congress for publication.”
In a Feb. 2022 letter, a White House lawyer said the Jan. 6 committee had “agreed to accept production of these records with birth dates and social security numbers removed” from the National Archives to “ensure that personal privacy information is not inadvertently disclosed.”
The National Archives, meanwhile, said in a statement that “while we took affirmative steps to redact personally identifiable information (PII), we did not expect that the Committee would publicly release records that still may have contained PII.”
Jan. 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, didn’t comment, although former GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the committee, said it was “something we’ll have to look into.”
“It’s unfortunate,” Kinzinger said, in an early frontrunner for understatement of 2023.
All this time pointing fingers and no time to contact the nearly 2,000 names that were exposed by the leak, apparently. And, while most of us likely have our SSN floating around on a Belarusian dark web site somewhere, most of us aren’t high-profile Republicans.
Thanks to the ineptitude of the organs of the federal government — in particular the Democrats’ Jan. 6 show-trial circus — 1,900 people will face a risk of identity theft that could last the rest of their lives. Nice work.
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