July 20-21, 2022 -- For Widest Dissemination: About those missing Secret Service texts from Jan. 5 and 6

publication date: Jul 20, 2022
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July 20-21, 2022 -- About those missing Secret Service texts from Jan. 5 and 6

Donald Trump wanted to turn the Justice Department into his own private law firm, the FBI into his own political police force, the military into his own private security force, and the Secret Service into his own praetorian guard. He failed in all cases with the exception of the latter.

The more that is heard about the actions of the Secret Service in the aftermath of the 2020 election, the more it appears that two officials of that agency were involved in supporting Trump’s attempted January 6, 2021 coup d’état. One was Tony Ornato,  the head of Trump’s personal security Secret Service detachment and the one who was handed the political job of Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House in contravention of personnel procedures. The other was Secret Service director James Murray, a hardened Trump loyalist who is retiring at the end of this month. Murray will immediately take over the job as chief security officer at Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, the application that was reportedly used by Secret Service agents as their preferred texting medium in the lead up to, during, and after the January 6th coup attempt.

What is vital at this point are two things: First, that authorities loyal to the Constitution and elected officials use their existing powers to secure the missing text messages (via the National Security Agency’s huge database as one option); and, second, that accountability for the “missing” messages be determined promptly because the string of decision-making -– including the strange personnel appointments in the last days of the Trump administration  and continuing to the forthcoming new job of the head of the Secret Service -- may point to intentional participation in the coup by all concerned, including  Donald Trump.

Murray is retiring and Ornato remains at the Secret Service as assistant director for training. Their cover-up of how the agency’s text messages on January 5 and 6 went missing may not hold up under scrutiny. Murray and Ornato, in telling the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, the National Archives, and the January 6th Select Committee that the text messages from January 5 and 6 were “lost” due to “device replacement” and “system migration,” fail to consider what another federal component, the National Security Agency (NSA), does on a daily basis.

As part of the agency’s communications security responsibilities, NSA monitors and records all government communications for possible security vulnerabilities. All government employees and contractors waive any right of privacy when using government-developed or government-provided communications devices. These include smart phones and email. Storing such a massive amount of government communications may seem impossible, but that is where the NSA’s Utah Data Center at Camp Williams in Bluffdale, Utah comes into play. The center’s Mission Data Repository stores what is estimated to be over 12 exabytes of data. The purpose of the massive database in what is known as a Tier III Data Center is to allow the government to go years back and look at any stored intercepted communications, foreign --  under signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection authority -- and U.S. government communications – pursuant to government communications security (COMSEC) directives -- should the need arise. With a compromised Secret Service covering up the “loss” of critical text messages during an attempted coup, the need to call up the missing messages from the Utah Data Center is imperative.

There is the very real possibility that the Trump coup plotters were aware of NSA’s data mining and storage capabilities. After Trump’s election loss and his purge of the Defense Department in November 2020, Trump’s new team of loyalists at the Pentagon ordered the appointment of Trump White House hatchet man Michael Ellis as the general counsel for the NSA. His appointment was vigorously opposed by NSA director (DIRNSA) Army General Paul Nakasone. Nevertheless, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, a Trump loyalist, ordered Nakasone to appoint Ellis as NSA general counsel on November 16, 2021, just four days before Trump left office. The gambit of placing a Trump loyalist at NSA with only weeks left in the Trump term provides further proof of Trump's criminality. Fortunately, Nakasone placed Ellis on administrative leave as Joe Biden was being sworn in as president. Thanks to DIRNSA’s actions, Ellis would not be able to mine the Utah Data Center to get rid of coup evidence. The curious personnel battle was covered by the political press at the time but it is only now that what seem like truly sinister implications are apparent.

Murray and Ornato may think that by ordering Snapchat and other Secret Service text messages deleted in some contrived “device replacement” scheme that they are home free from being tied to an internal government plot to overthrow the constitutional order. Unfortunately for them, they forgot about the NSA and its COMSEC mission, particularly the NSA’s oversight for such a critical national security agency as the Secret Service. January 6th committee, FBI, and DHS Inspector General investigators, as well as National Archives staffers, should be booking flights to Salt Lake City.

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