by House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Mac Thornberry

(Nov. 17, 2015) — [Editor’s Note:  The following press release was received by The Post & Email on Tuesday afternoon.]

For Immediate Release: November 17, 2015      Contact: Claude Chafin (202) 225-2539

WASHINGTON– Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement on the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Homeland Security and Office of Management and Budget’s last minute decision not to testify before a classified briefing to the Committee.  The briefing, scheduled for 10:00 AM this morning, is intended to cover the massive OPM data breach.  Department of Defense and Intelligence Community representatives testified at the briefing as planned.

OPM, DHS and OMB cited the Committee’s intent to transcribe the classified briefing as the reason they will not testify.

“OPM, Homeland Security and OMB’s last-minute refusal to appear before this committee is unacceptable.  Their excuse, that the testimony would be on the record, is disturbing.  The Committee transcribes classified briefings regularly.  Let me be clear; this briefing covers the largest government data breach in history.  The overwhelming victims of the breach are our troops and the DOD civilians who work to support them – not to mention the force protection implications from a breach of personally-identifiable information of their family members and dependents.  The Department has already been forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in identity protection services to try and repair the damage.  There is no excuse at all for being unwilling to explain on the record about how the breach happened and what we are doing to prevent another one. What could they possibly have to hide? What a disservice to the men and women who placed their trust in these agencies.

Members of the Congress have an obligation to understand this serious issue.  We have a role to play in preventing another breach.  We owe it to our constituents, our troops, and their families to be careful stewards of this matter, and we will not stop until we get the information we are owed.”