Today, former long-time National Archives employee Leslie Waffen pleaded guilty to stealing original sound recordings from the National Archives and selling them on eBay. Mr. Waffen has agreed to turn over more than 955 sound recordings belonging to the National Archives that were seized from his home and pay restitution for the full amount of the loss.
While I am pleased that we are one step closer to justice in this case, I am disappointed and angered by Mr. Waffen’s violation of the trust placed in him by colleagues and the American people to safeguard our nation’s history. It is an outrage that an employee entrusted with protecting our heritage became a threat to those holdings.
As I have stated since I became Archivist of the United States, the security of the holdings of the National Archives is my highest priority.
Our Holdings Protection Team has been working closely with archival units to improve training techniques, institute new policies and procedures, and purchase new equipment to ensure that our holdings are safer.
We have heightened security in our facilities nationwide and continue to strive towards creating a culture of increased vigilance among our staff. New procedures include exit screenings, in which security officers check all bags of visitors and staff alike – including mine—at both our Washington, D.C., and College Park, Maryland, facilities. This routine practice will soon be extended to all 44 of our facilities nationwide.
The Holdings Protection Team is upgrading its centralized registry of individuals banned from Archives facilities to a secure directory that keeps track of the facilities they visit, and the documents they ask for.
I commend the staff of the Office of the Inspector General and our Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch for their handling of this investigation and their commitment to ensuring the restoration of stolen property back to the National Archives.
David S. Ferriero
ARCHIVIST OF THE UNITED STATES