Issa: Administration Still Lying About Obamacare Website

Image: Issa: Administration Still Lying About Obamacare Website

Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 06:00 PM

By Courtney Coren

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House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa said Tuesday that he can't help thinking the Obama administration is lying about the security of HealthCare.gov.

"It is this committee's intent to err on the side of the assumption that the administration continues to lie about the site being safe and secure," Issa said at a hearing. "We can find no other basis but to assume that they were lying about the vulnerabilities on the day they went live on Oct. 1, and that they are still lying.

"I don't use the word 'lie' without real forethought," Issa said.

The California Republican said he is making that assumption based on claims by the administration that the Obamacare website, which was launched on Oct. 1 and was laden with glitches as well as serious security problems, had not only been put through the appropriate tests and was ready for its launch, but was tested for security problems and yet no red flags were raised that gave the administration any reason to think the rollout of Obamacare should be delayed.

"You cannot continue to tell people there is no problem, that there was no problem on Oct. 1 — you cannot tell people it has been mitigated but tell them, 'don't release documents because it's a pathway for hackers,'" Issa said.

"So, I will assume that the truth is the site was vulnerable on launch date, they went ahead with known vulnerabilities, and that they continue to have unknown areas that could cause information to remain available . . . we can take no other assumptions," he concluded.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee, is accusing Republicans of overstating the security problems that face HealthCare.gov to scare Americans away from the Affordable Care Act.

"We received testimony two weeks ago from the chief information security officer of [the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services]," Cummings said. "She told us, 'There have been no successful security attacks on the FFM [Federally Facilitated Marketplace], and no person or group has maliciously accessed personally identifiable information.'

"The chief information security officer also said that, following security testing in December, HealthCare.gov has a 'clean bill of health,'" the Maryland Democrat added. "Although no system is hack-proof, she said she is 'confident based on the recent security controls assessment and the additional security protections in place that the FFM is secure.'"

Health and Human Services Chief Information Security Officer Kevin Charest is expected to testify Tuesday in a closed hearing along with the head of MITRE Corp., the contractor working on security problems with the website.

Based on documents Issa obtained in December from the contractor, Issa said MITRE had warned the administration of "security vulnerabilities" that had been identified and pointed out that 11 of them "will significantly impact the confidentiality, integrity and/or availability of the system or data." 

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