House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced Friday that an ObamaCare contractor would comply with a subpoena he issued, despite efforts by the Obama administration and some Democrats to keep the documents out of his hands.
After consulting with its legal counsel, MITRE Corp., a contractor working to assess security issues with the ObamaCare website, determined that it “has no alternative but to comply with the terms of a Congressional subpoena absent some form of judicial intervention.”
“MITRE’s decision is a rejection of efforts by the White House to obstruct oversight,” Issa said in a statement. “The American people deserve an honest assessment of decisions by the Administration to proceed with the October 1 launch of HealthCare.gov despite warnings about security vulnerabilities.”
Earlier on Friday, MITRE in a letter to Issa said the subpoena put it in a “difficult position” because it’s concerned about the security of the sensitive information it would be required to hand over, and because the documents technically belong to the government agency tasked with implementing ObamaCare, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The Obama administration and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the Oversight Committee, have said Issa couldn’t be trusted with the documents because he’s displayed a “reckless pattern” of leaking confidential information in a way that promotes “inaccurate” media coverage.
The administration has allowed committee staffers to review the reports in a secure room but has refused to turn over physical copies.
Issa’s subpoenas caused tension with the Obama administration and Democrats on the Oversight panel to boil over this week.
On Friday, Cummings wrote a letter to Issa accusing him of using the oversight function to leak and distort sensitive information for political gain.
The Cummings letter came a day after the Obama administration escalated its feud with Issa by telling him he could not have physical copies of the MITRE documents. The administration also argued that because of Issa's history of selective leaks to the media, he couldn't be trusted with the materials.
Issa disputed this notion.
“When we have released information on sensitive topics, we have exercised great care to ensure that there are not unintended consequences,” he said. “Most often, these releases shed light on false and misleading public statements, whether they are made by the administration or others.”
The administration says it’s concerned about the MITRE documents leaking because they “include software code and other technical information that is highly sensitive” and could give hackers “a roadmap to compromise the security of the website and the personal information of American citizens.”
“In reviewing the documents lawfully provided by MITRE, we intend to consult carefully with non-conflicted experts to ensure no information is released that could further jeopardize the website’s security,” Issa said.