Health reform implementation

Dems want briefing on Issa docs

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The White House and senior congressional Democrats on Monday said congressional leaders should seek an “immediate classified briefing” on ObamaCare documents subpoenaed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

The Democrats argue in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that the two leaders should intervene in Issa’s investigation.

{mosads}They also accuse Issa of being reckless with sensitive information that ObamaCare contractors handed to him last week under the threat of a subpoena.

“We do not believe these sensitive documents should have been provided to the Committee without adequate protocols to safeguard their contents,” the Democrats wrote in their letter “But now that they have, we have an obligation to understand the harm that would be caused if these documents were disclosed.”

“It is reckless in the extreme for Chairman Issa or any member to possess these documents without a full understanding of the extremely sensitive information they contain and the widespread damage that could be caused if they got into the wrong hands,” they added.

The letter was signed by Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.), Henry Waxman (Ca.), Adam Smith (Wa.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), George Miller (Ca.), and Sander Levin (Mich.). They are the top Democrats on seven separate committees.

The Democrats say they’re seeking leadership intervention because Issa has refused a personal briefing from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and senior cybersecurity officials “on the security risks of disclosing these documents.”

In a separate letter to Boehner and Pelosi, the White House legal counsel warns the documents would, if disclosed, “provide information to potential hackers that increases the risk they could penetrate HealthCare.gov.”

The administration has allowed committee staffers to review the reports in a secure room but cited security concerns in refusing to turn over the physical copies, provoking Issa to subpoena the documents from the contractors directly.

“The Committee Chairman did not respond to any of HHS’s proposals, nor did he make any reciprocal effort to find an alternative accommodation,” the White House letter says.

“Rather, the Committee Chairman insisted on physical production of the documents without agreeing to put in place any safeguards to ensure their confidentiality.”

Issa announced Friday that two ObamaCare contractors would comply with the subpoenas he issued, despite efforts by the Obama administration and some Democrats to keep the documents out of his hands.

The Obama administration and Democrats have said Issa can’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.

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.”

In a letter to Issa, MITRE 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 administration said 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.”

Issa said he would make sure that didn’t happen.

“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 on Friday.

Tags Darrell Issa Darrell Issa John Boehner Nancy Pelosi ObamaCare

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