Missing Clinton-Era Hard Drive Could Yield Big Bucks

National Archives offers up to $50,000 cash reward

Now that the go-go days of no-money-down interest-free mortgages and endless credit lines are over, how's a person supposed to get their hands on some quick and easy cash? You could rob a bank, but all you'd get is a bunch of IOUs to China. Steal a baby? Risky, and you have to feed it. Fortunately, our own American government has freed up to $50,000 in valuable cash money for information that leads to the recovery of a missing hard drive with valuable Clinton-era data on it.

National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) personnel figured out that the hard drive had gone missing about a week and a half ago, but the National Archives didn't send out the news about the sexy reward money till last Friday. As to when the thing actually disappeared, well, who knows! A not-very-reassuring FAQ explains it thus (PDF):

The missing hard drive was last seen sometime between October 2008 and the first week of February and was discovered missing on or about March 24, 2009.

Well, what was on this thing, anyway?

The drive holds an unknown amount of personal information about White House staff and visitors, including names and Social Security numbers. It contains snapshots of the hard drives of departing administration officials, information that had been stored on 113 4-mm tape cartridges.

Ha ha, so, no big deal, really! (Except for all those staff and visitors, whose names and Social Security numbers may have been compromised.) If this is like a lot of "OMG IMPORTANT DATA LOST" stories, the Clinton hard drive will turn up in the men's room, or maybe misfiled under "Clanton." But who knows, maybe some enterprising thief saw how easy it was for Sandy Berger to smuggle classified documents out of the National Archives a few years ago and decided to one-up him with a whole hard drive.

Regardless of whether an actual crime has even occurred, we have arrived at what President Obama would call "a teachable moment." We have learned that in these difficult economic times, when families are scrimping and saving just to afford a simple plate of scrambled eggs, you can make literally tens of thousands of dollars looking for some piece of lost government equipment.

Data security expert Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us