- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Federal investigators under the Department of Justice have launched an inquiry into the FBI’s five months’ worth of missing text messages.

That’s the least feds should do. This is an eye-opening situation, made worse by the FBI’s explanation that “misconfiguration issues” tied to software updates brought about the loss.

Can you imagine if the average Joe Q. Citizen tried the same line of excuse with, say, an auditing Internal Revenue Service and a request for digitally stored tax records?

Guilty — that would be the automatic finding of the IRS, with poor John Q. having no recourse but to pay the determined amount, with fines and late fees, or quite possibly, face uncomfortable charges of tax evasion and fraud, leading to jail.

In other words: The IRS doesn’t play that missing record thing. But the FBI, for one or more of its own?

The FBI’s skirt of records shows a double standard that gives government a free pass that taxpayers — government’s employer — aren’t allowed.

President Donald Trump has called the missing texts “one of the biggest stories in a long time.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said similarly, labeling the situation as “absolutely outrageous” and suggesting “there could have been some really inappropriate and possibly illegal behavior.”

Quite right.

These missing texts were conversations between then-FBI-top intel guy, Peter Strzok, and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, anti-Trumpers who served for a time on Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into Russia collusion. Curiously, the date of the missing texts coincide with the start of Mueller’s special counsel appointment.

The fact the FBI can’t find these messages is suspicious. But the fact that the agency’s excuse for the missing texts is being entertained in the slightest as valid is laughable. Either the FBI isn’t secure — either the FBI can’t secure its own documents and files and records, which would be an admission that would go to the failure of the agency to perform its own mission — or the American people are being asked to stomach an egregious double standard.

If an American citizen could face jail time for failing to produce records upon government request or demand, the same should hold true for America’s tax-paid officials. What’s good for the citizen goose should also be good for the government gander.

Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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