Archuleta OPM hack disaster crystallizes Obama administration incompetence

Katherine Archuleta resigned as head of the Office of Personnel Management yesterday, but the effects of her spectacular incompetence will harm the United States for many years to come. Her rise and fall symbolically and substantively capture the essence of the Obama administration approach to its grave responsibilities, and its failure to meet them.

Archuleta’s appointment to the position she occupied – in essence, human resources director for the largest employer in America -- was a classic three-fer, in the cynical parlance of contemporary affirmative action. She is a woman! She is Hispanic! She is (or was) politically connected and reliable! You see, her prior work experience was on the Obama campaign. Twitchy, Instapundit, and Powerline, among many others, gleefully exposed her handiwork as an Obama 2012 campaign operative who posted a Tweet mocking Mitt Romney for revealing “little understanding of what’s going on the 21st century” with a YouTube video of him warning of Chinese hacking.


This, of course, echoes Obama’s smart-alecky mocking of Romney during a presidential debate, with “The 1980s called; they want their foreign policy back,” when Romney stated Russia was a major security threat – something the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff just averred before a congressional committee.

Almost certainly, Archuleta was placed in her job in order to politicize the federal bureaucracy as much as possible, including installing people chosen for the ethnic background and political reliability, with actual job competence an afterthought, if even that. We know that Archuleta was warned of the dangers of hacking and failed to take corrective actions.

So, she reflects her former boss, Obama, in multiple ways. Chosen for her ethnicity, a causal attitude toward serious responsibilities, and a smart-aleck approach to her opponents, proving to be dead wrong in her key points, and creating serious national problems that will bedevil the United States for many years to come. Access to the personnel data of 20 some million people, as now appears to have happened, offers a goldmine for the recruitment of spies, not to mention the chance to wreak financial havoc on a targeted basis. Imagine the stolen identities of hundreds or thousands of people in key national security roles preoccupying them in a crisis with one of our enemies.

But there is a final irony: the people she has most directly harmed are those the Obama administration tends to consider its own: federal employees. They regularly vote Democratic by large margins, they are available for mobilization, like Lois Lerner, against political enemies, and their interests tend to rank high on the list of priorities of the Obama administration. Thus it is that the clamor for Archuleta;’sresignation included not just mean ol’ Republicans, but Democrats who represent areas with large numbers of federal employees. As Cory Bennett reported in The Hill:

In the wake of the revelation, the top three House Republican leaders asked for her ouster, as did Sen. Mark Warner (D), who represents the sizable chunk of the federal workforce that resides in Virginia.

“Director Archuleta’s slow and uneven response has not inspired confidence that she is the right person to manage OPM through this crisis,” Warner said.

Earnest on Firday said he does not know if the president's personal data was compromised in the hack. 

"I don’t have information about the president’s personal data," he said. "Even if I did, I am not sure I would share it."

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had slammed Archuleta for not heeding myriad warnings from her inspector general about glaring security weaknesses in the OPM’s outdated networks.

Archuleta insisted she was taking into account the watchdog’s recommendations both in a long-term plan to modernize the OPM system, and to aggressively patch flaws discovered in a security review following the breaches.

“Their strategic plan and aggressive efforts were failures,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who was the first lawmaker to call for Archuleta’s resignation, told The Hill. Archuleta's insistence that her plans were anything but failures “is nauseating,” Lieu added. 

It is probably too much to ask that Rep. Lieu, Sen. Warner, and other Democrats reflect on the reasons Archuleta was chosen, and was not fired immediately when the hack became known. But if Republicans make an issue of it, perhaps some voters will draw the appropriate conclusions.