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December 16, 2013

Top House Dems Urge Leadership to Hold Immediate Classified Briefing on Sensitive IT Documents Subpoenaed by Issa

(WASHINGTON) — Today, the top ranking Democrats on seven House Committees—Oversight and Government Reform, Energy and Commerce, Armed Services, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Education and the Workforce, and Ways and Means—sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urging them to hold an immediate classified briefing with top Administration cyber security officials about the risks posed by the disclosure of documents relating to the website that were subpoenaed last week by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. The documents, known as Security Control Assessments (SCAs), already had been provided to the Committee in redacted form, and Committee staff reviewed the full unredacted documents in camera, but Chairman Issa issued a unilateral subpoena for the full unredacted copies, which he received on Friday.

The Members wrote: "We do not believe these sensitive documents should have been provided to the Committee without adequate protocols to safeguard their contents. 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."

On Sunday, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler sent a letter to Speaker Boehner warning that disclosing these documents could increase the risks to federal IT systems across the entire federal government: "Since many Federal IT systems are built using similar components and techniques, the release of the SCAs for the FFM would increase the ability of sophisticated actors to infiltrate not only the FFM, but potentially other, similarly constructed Federal IT system controls."

This followed a letter sent by the MITRE Corporation on Friday warning: "In the wrong hands, this information could cause irreparable harm to the basic security architecture of and potentially to the security of other CMS data networks that share attributes of this architecture." It also followed a letter sent on Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday warning that releasing the documents "could provide a roadmap for malicious cyber actors to direct more efficient and effective cyber-attacks against some of the most sensitive sites the Federal government operates."


The letter from the Ranking Members can be found here.

The letter from White House Counsel to Speaker Boehner can be found here.

The letter from security contractor MITRE to Issa can be found here.

The letter from HHS to Issa can be found here.


The letter was signed by: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings Ranking Member, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Rep. Henry A. Waxman Ranking Member, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Rep. Adam Smith Ranking Member, House Committee on Armed Services Rep. Bennie G. Thompson Ranking Member, House Committee on Homeland Security Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Rep. George Miller Ranking Member, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Rep. Sander M. Levin Ranking Member, House Committee on Ways and Means 

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Media Contact:
Jennifer Hoffman (Cummings): 202-226-5181
Karen Lightfoot (Waxman): 202-225-3641
Michael Amato (Smith): 202-226-8454
Adam Comis (Thompson): 202-226-2616
Allison Getty (Ruppersberger): 202-225-7690
Julia Krahe (Miller): 202-226-0853
Josh Drobnyk (Levin): 202-225-4021