Wednesday, June 07, 2006

And you are???

Last month a laptop computer was stolen from the home of an analyst for the Veterans Administration. It wouldn't even make the local papers' police blotter except for the fact that the now fired VA analyst had unencrypted data of millions of names, birth dates and social security numbers of veterans on the computer. Over 26.5 veterans, who had been discharged since 1975, had their personal information compromised making widespread identity theft a near certainty. Senior VA officials knew about the theft within hours of the crime but did not tell VA Secretary Jim Nicholson until 13 days later.

Now it comes out that the "Social Security numbers and other personal information for as many as 2.2 million U.S. military personnel -- including nearly 80 percent of the active-duty force -- were among the data" on that laptop computer that was stolen last month raising concerns not only of identity theft but also national security. One defense official called the extent of the data loss "monumental." The names, birth dates and social security numbers of roughly "1.1 million active-duty military personnel, 430,000 National Guard members and 645,000 reserve members" were likely stolen last month.

So first you had incompetence cause the loss of over 26.5 million military personnel, then you had a cover-up and failure to admit that perhaps the largest identity theft had occurred, then you either lie or incompetently explain who is at risk. Wrap your brain around that. Nearly 80% of active-duty military personnel, men and women who are in Iraq, Afghanistan or flying there right now had their personal data stolen and now they are at risk for identity theft for the rest of their lives. Not only that, they weren't told the truth about their risk until today. Just as the government failed to protect their lives with adequate forces or equipment or a post-invasion plan, W and his incompetent cronies failed to protect their personal information. They can't protect our troops from insurgent attacks or from a single incompetent former-VA analyst who compromised the names, birth dates and social security numbers of nearly every person on active military duty. And the administration’s response? They are telling the veterans and active-duty forces to monitor their credit files for any unusual activity. How do you do that on patrol in Mosul? Basically the government is telling them, as they’ve told us with bird flu or another Cat 5 hurricane, “you’re on your own.” Heckuva job Republicans. Can't wait to see how you're going to secure the homeland next. You can’t even secure a Dell laptop.

Lies and incompetence. It hasn’t protected our troops in Iraq or their personal information on a laptop computer.


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