I was probably 10 or 11 years old when I first heard about the United States Federal Witness Protection Program. It sounded so exotic to me, surpassed only in my mind by the actual spy program of the CIA. My friends and I would daydream about what our name would be and where we would live if all of a sudden we were whisked away from our actual, “real” lives. We’d play make-believe, blaming our little brothers for some minor slip of the tongue about their real names or city of origin that would make us move again, getting new names and new lives again. Unfortunately, some folks in the real witness protection program may also be thinking about a name and address change. As reported by The Washington Post and other outlets like the Huffington Post, the U.S. Marshals Service seems to have lost track of about 2,000 encrypted two-way radios. Oops. According to The Huffington Post:
In interviews with the paper, some Marshals told The Wall Street Journal they were worried not only about the wasted money, but also about the prospect of criminals getting hold of the radios and using them to gain access to privileged law enforcement activities.
Yikes. Now, the Marshals are saying that it might be a function of poor record keeping, rather than an actual equipment loss. Nevertheless, they can’t really say one way or the other, a fact that may pose a security risk to those people who rely on the Marshals for protection.
And even if it’s just a matter of poor record keeping and not actually losing the radios, that probably should not give us any additional comfort. Unless, of course, they use a different record-keeping system for the people they’re supposed to be tracking.