- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2013

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa this week accused the Obama administration of trying to obstruct a congressional investigation by trying to silence the contractors that help the federal government with security clearances, and he demanded interviews with individuals involved in the process.

In two letters this week, Mr. Issa also said the Office of Personnel Management has failed to meet his deadline for complying with a subpoena seeking unredacted documents about the security vetting process used to clear Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis and former contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of secret government programs this year.

Mr. Issa, California Republican, said that while OPM let the meetings with contractors proceed, the agency is not providing adequate help with his investigation.

“This alarming pattern of noncooperation raises questions about why OPM does not want to work with the committee to address major holes in the security clearance process,” Mr. Issa wrote Monday to OPM Director Katherine Archuleta. “More disheartening, however, are OPM’s obvious attempts to slow our investigation and obstruct our investigation.”

In a second letter Tuesday, Mr. Issa listed three employees he demanded OPM make available for transcribed interviews: the associated director of the Federal Investigative Services and two case analysts in a Pennsylvania office, including the specific analyst who reviewed the Navy Yard shooter’s file.

An OPM spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on Mr. Issa’s accusations, saying the agency has taken steps to let the committee staffers see the documents in question.

“We have already made these documents available to the committee for review. We have received the subpoena and plan to respond as appropriate,” Lindsey S. O’Keefe said.

After his investigators got a look at the documents in secret, Mr. Issa said last month that they showed OPM appeared to give advice on how to cut corners in background check investigations. He said its lax policies could have led to the clearance Alexis used to gain access to the Navy Yard.

In an earlier reply to Mr. Issa, OPM’s chief attorney said the agency was withholding documents because some of them contained sensitive business information and others, if made public, would lay out clear ways to defeat the clearance system.

OPM also hinted that it could claim to protect the documents by executive privilege because they implicate the White House budget office’s interests.

Mr. Issa first requested unredacted OPM documents in September, including the full 2007 background investigation report that approved Alexis‘ security clearance.

Alexis used that clearance in September to gain access to the Navy Yard facility, where he killed a dozen people and wounded eight others before he was fatally shot by police.

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