Congress Questions Secret Service’s Policy to Destroy Surveillance Video After 3 Days

The Secret Service’s policy to record over surveillance footage after 72 hours has raised concerns with members of Congress.

WASHINGTON – Video surveillance footage taken during a March 4 incident at the White House complex, which showed Secret Service agents driving into a barricade that was blocking off a bomb-threat investigation, was erased three days after the event.

Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy, testified before Congress on March 19, explaining that the video footage no longer exists because of the agency’s policy of recording over surveillance video every three days, The Washington Post reports.

On the night in question, two senior agents, including a top member of President Obama’s security detail, drove their vehicle into an area that had been barricaded after a woman had thrown a package into the area, claiming that it was a bomb.

Authorities preserved some of the surveillance video from the incident because it showed the agents’ government car driving next to the package. Police investigated the event and later deemed it harmless because the vehicle was moving very slowly and bumped a construction barrel out of the way.

Members of Congress are not pleased with the available video footage. Several lawmakers complained that the video showed the same scene from two angles, which did not allow them to see much of the agents’ actions that night.

Others voiced their concerns with the agency’s policy to erase video after three days.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) called the policy “flat-out dumb,” since it allowed surveillance video that had been taken on the night of a bomb threat to be erased.

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), expressed his disappointment as well, noting that there was little excuse for such information to be purged so quickly, especially given that many businesses retain such video footage for a month.

Clancy said his department is currently working with the security system’s manufacturer and government experts to try to recover the lost footage.

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