Gee, why would anyone expect Katherine Archuleta to resign? All she did as head of the Office of Personnel Management was to provide incompetent leadership over data security that allowed hackers to steal the most sensitive personal data of more than 21 million Americans, putting 7% of the nation’s population at grave risk for identity theft, or worse. Her agency under her leadership practically handed the keys to OPM systems to China, while Archuleta claims no one else in her organization has any responsibility for the theft. For a few weeks, they couldn’t even tell the truth about the scope of the hack, but hey, that’s business as usual too, apparently.
The head of the U.S. government’s personnel office is rejecting bipartisan calls for her resignation following revelations that hackers stole the personal information of more than 21 million people on her watch.
Katherine Archuleta, director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, said she has no plans to step down and is committed to continuing her work. The White House, which had previously said President Barack Obama was confident in Archuleta’s leadership, said there was no change in its position. …
Word that the breach was far more severe than previously acknowledged drew indignation from members of Congress who have said the administration has not done enough to protect personal data in their systems, as well as calls for Archuleta and her top deputies to resign. House Republican leaders – Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise – called for Archuleta’s resignation, and Boehner said the president must “take a strong stand against incompetence.”
Even some members of Obama’s own party, usually reluctant to criticize the administration, joined the call for Archuleta to go. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia decried Archuleta for a “slow and uneven response” that he said had undermined confidence in her abilities.
“It is time for her to step down, and I strongly urge the administration to choose new management with proven abilities to address a crisis of this magnitude with an appropriate sense of urgency and accountability,” Warner said.
It’s a tall order to sustain the idea that the pillaging of systems under Archuleta’s control creates no need for responsibility and accountability. These are the most sensitive sets of personnel data in the the US, the security of which was taken so lightly by Archuleta and her team that the wholesale theft of it went on for more than a year — and was only inadvertently discovered by an outside vendor. Instead of providing actual accountability, OPM is relying on Orwellian word constructs to minimize its epic incompetence:
Phrase of the day: "data exfiltration." Used by @USOPM officials to describe the theft of federal staffer information in its computers.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 10, 2015
When people in government start reaching for the thesaurus, it’s usually in an exercise to avoid responsibility and accountability. This, however, is more ridiculous and Orwellian than most such efforts. “Exfiltration” is the opposite of “infiltration,” which is exactly what China managed to do with OPM while it snored on security. Also, “exfiltration” is used in intelligence as operations to get people out of dangerous environments; the film Argo recounted an exfiltration operation that got six Americans out of Iran in 1979 after they managed to get away from the US embassy, to use one example. Exfiltration also suggests small scale, not something on world-record level for theft on one hand and incompetence on the other.
Data theft is not an “exfiltration,” any more than data entry would be called an “infiltration.” Data theft is data theft, but a better word in this case would be espionage, since the thieves in this case apparently work for a foreign and hostile government. Calling it “theft” and “espionage” makes people demand accountability for the failures which (and who) allowed it, so now OPM wants to use “exfiltration” in a nonsensical way to sanitize the situation.
The White House, which has only fired someone once for incompetence (Eric Shinseki), says they’re standing behind Archuleta. Perhaps more Democrats in Congress should start speaking up to pressure Barack Obama to look for ways to “exfiltrate” Archuleta.