These Federal Agencies Illegally Destroyed Public Records

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor
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Officials at six federal agencies have illegally destroyed public documents since 2008, according to the government’s official record keeper.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) listed eight cases where federal agencies illegally destroyed records, according to NARA’s 2017 budget justification. Another 52 cases are pending investigation.

The agencies that illegally destroyed records were the U.S. Army, Environmental Protection Agency, Peace Corps, Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The archives also pointed to the Library of Congress, which is not an executive branch agency.

The destroyed records include “video recordings of interrogations of [a] terrorism suspect,” an EPA “inspection enforcement notebook” and photos of former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, the document said.

“Of the 52 cases open at the end of [fiscal year] 2015, four cases are involved in ongoing litigation and three cases are under investigation by the agency,” the document stated.

One open case dates to 1998, while three others were opened in 1999.

“Federal agencies are required to notify NARA of any alleged unauthorized disposition of the agency’s records,” the document said. “NARA also receives notifications from other sources such as news media and private citizens. NARA establishes a case to track each allegation and communicates with the agency until the issue is resolved.”

“An unauthorized destruction occurs when records are destroyed or delated … without an approved disposition,” according to NARA’s website.

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