Thursday, January 29, 2009

"I wanted to protect the US Marines..."

(photo courtesy of Fox News here)

That photograph is secret documents that the US Consulate in Israel didn't even know they had "lost" until an American living in Israel discovered them long after she had bought office furniture in an auction held three years ago.

Now, Israel National News is running the story, and Fox News also has a story about it. From Israel National News:

US Blunder: Jerusalem Consulate Sold Documents in Auction
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( The United States Consulate three years ago unknowingly sold documents to a woman from a Jerusalem suburb who bought file cabinets for NIS 166 ($42) plus tax at a U.S. Consulate auction. The documents contain classified information, some of which was labeled secret but not top secret information. The Consulate has been investigating how the blunder occurred.

Some of the thousands of US Consulate documents left in file cabinets which were auctioned off to an Israeli civilian.

Paula, who requested her last name be withheld from publication, said that she discovered the documents in two cabinets after breaking the locks on the drawers, most of which were empty. She explained that she found thousands of papers mostly relating to correspondence, funding and financial information, including social security numbers, of army personnel.

"They are lucky that the information fell into my hands, because someone else could have used them for identify theft," Paula told Israel National News.

That the US Consulate should be angry with this woman is beyond absurd. I guess they are following the old maxim that the best form of defence is attack. Ridiculous. As Paula says: they ARE lucky these documents fell into her hands.

The State Department now says that an "investigation is underway...." They should have kept better track of these documents that contained very personal information in the first place. Just saying. Instead of threatening a woman who was concerned for the safety of OUR Marines, they should be thanking her for her attempts to do the right thing by our troops - which the US apparently could not.

As Paula said, in a private email to me today:

I wanted to protect the US Marines who were stationed here -
from the careless way the US Consulate handled this...and their trying to
blame me doesn't change their mess up.

I just want them to be more careful. They should really be thanking me for
saving those documents...rather than threatening me.

You can read the rest of this story on Israel National News here or Fox News here. Even the Timesonline out of London (the real London...) has this story here.

This is not the first time important government documents have gone missing. I have previously documented such events out of England and Canada. In my opinion this is far too cavalier handling of information that not only could potentially harm our troops, but also aid our common enemies.

I think the US government owes Paula a HUGE debt of gratitude for her care in this matter. I doubt she will get it from them, so I - personally - say THANK YOU!

[AND an addendum to this story. More careless handling of US military information]:

NZ man finds US military files on MP3 player

Posted Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:13pm AEDT

A New Zealand man has found confidential US military files on an MP3 player he bought in an Oklahoma thrift shop, it has been reported.

Chris Ogle, 29, paid $15 for the player and when he plugged it into his computer he found 60 pages of military data, Television One News said.

The files contained the names and personal details of US soldiers, including some who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as information about equipment deployed to bases and a mission briefing.

"The more I look at it, the more I see and the less I think I should be [seeing]," Mr Ogle said.

Although most of the files are dated 2005, TV One said it rang some of the phone numbers and they were answered by the corresponding personnel.

Mr Ogle said the MP3 had never worked as a music player and he would hand it over to the US Defence Department if asked. (here)

Is this insane, or what? Hello? Just WHO is minding the store and watching out for our US troops' interests here?


S.A.Torrence said...

They should be thanking her over and over again!

Thank You Paula, for everything you did to keep my military men safe. My husband could have been in those files and he and my entire family targeted for misery.

You are a wonderful person!

K-Dubyah said...

Why can't they ever admit that they made the mistake? Instead they are so intent on pointing fingers at others. Paula, you have my thanks as well. At least we know there are honorable citizens who care about our troops.

Brat, thank you for bringing this to our attention. You be the bestest! ;)
or as my word verification says "prized"