- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 14, 2015

The House’s top investigator said in an interview Sunday that he may have to subpoena the Office of Personnel Management to testify next week after Obama administration officials resisted his request to come before Congress and detail the massive identity theft revealed last week.

Hackers might have gotten ahold of Social Security numbers, security clearance information and potentially even medical records of millions of Americans through the OPM’s files, which the criminals had illegitimate access to for as long as a year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said.

“Right now the Office of Personnel Management, OPM, is being very resistant to agreeing to attend. I’m prepared to issue a subpoena, if need be, to get them there. I think the public needs to hear about this,” Mr. Chaffetz said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program, taped Friday and aired Sunday.

The OPM didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.

As the new chairman of the committee, Mr. Chaffetz has oversight over much of government, and has ongoing investigations ranging from drone policy to border security to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s questionable email practices during her time in office.

One major topic for his committee is the IRS’s targeting of tea party groups, and of former IRS employee Lois G. Lerner’s emails, which the agency had said were lost when her computer hard drive crashed.

Since then, the IRS’s inspector general found backup tapes with those emails, and has been working to reconstruct them, as well as looking into why the IRS itself was unable to find those emails.

Mr. Chaffetz said the inspector general was just “days away” from releasing his findings, but said he suspects it was more than just bureaucratic bungling that kept the IRS from turning over the Lerner emails. He said it took the inspector just 15 days, start-to-finish, to get backup computer tapes and find emails on them — and when the investigators approached the storage facility where the backup tapes were kept, the staffers said the IRS hadn’t never bothered to ask for the tapes.

“It really does reek and smell and look like, I think, an obstruction of Congress,” Mr. Chaffetz said.

On border security, Mr. Chaffetz just returned from a visit to Texas where he saw a Customs and Border Protection helicopter was shot at from the Mexican side, and the pilot was saved by his bulletproof vest.

He had particularly harsh words for Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who this week said apprehensions of illegal immigrants along the border are down, which means overall illegal immigration is down. He said the pace is the slowest for illegal immigration since 1972.

Mr. Chaffetz, though, said that’s a questionable equation.

“I’ve got a great deal of respect for him, but he’s doing this country a disservice by telling people that apprehensions are down so it’s safer. I’ll go show him, any place he wants, where they’re able to cross by the hundreds on a nightly basis,” Mr. Chaffetz said.

The congressman also said Secretary of State John F. Kerry needs to spend more time in Mexico helping that country get a handle on the drug-fueled violence that’s left a deteriorating security situation, particularly along their border with the U.S.

“He spends an awful lot of time in France riding his bike, he’s been to the Middle East and that’s a troubled situation, but we have 100,000 people who’ve died in Mexico in the last nine years and our secretary of state has been there once?” he said. “That doesn’t sound to me like it’s a priority and I think it should be.”

Mr. Chaffetz has demanded answers about steps the State Department is taking to protect its employees who work in northern Mexico, and has raised concerns over a plan department staffers in the region told him about to cut their danger pay.

The State Department has said it takes security of its personnel seriously, and periodically reviews its danger pay awards to make sure they match the needs.

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