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Jeb Bush on Monday used the recent hacking of the Office of Personnel Management to bash President Barack Obama on cyber security and plant a flag on how he would handle cyber threats.
Bush, who has been sharpening his attacks on Obama on the campaign trail in recent weeks, posted on the publishing platform Medium that the recent hacking of OPM shows the Obama administration doesn’t take those types of “threats seriously.”
The post comes as the Obama administration deals with the fallout of a huge breach of federal employees’ data. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight committee, is looking to question a pair of contractors hired by OPM to perform background checks on potential employees to see if they accidentally opened up the agency to an attack.
“A recent Inspector General report indicates that vulnerabilities to OPM’s systems had been identified as much as a year ago. And no one can suggest the government did not understand the value of millions of personnel records — many of which included the intrusive and sensitive personnel questionnaire (the “SF-86”),” Bush wrote. “OPM officials knew this data was valuable, knew it was sensitive, and knew it was vulnerable. What use is it that President Obama issued an Executive Order or gave a thoughtful speech about cybersecurity if his own Office of Personnel Management — the human resources department of the entire US Government — failed to take basic steps to protect the sensitive personal information of millions of its employees?”
Bush went on to blame “the political class in Washington” for treating the National Security Agency “as an enemy of the state rather than its defender.”
“We need to preserve and enhance the capabilities of the U.S. intelligence community and law enforcement to identify, deter, and respond to cyber attacks,” the former Florida governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate continued.
Last week House Oversight and Government Reform committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) urged the Obama administration to fire OPM Director Katherine Archuleta and CIO Donna Seymour in light of the cyber attack. But Obama signaled he still had confidence in Archuleta to run the agency. Bush suggested that Archuleta should not lead OPM going forward.
“What consequences will there be for political appointees or bureaucrats who failed to heed warnings and adequately protect these key databases?” Bush continued. “What will happen to Katherine Archuleta who served as the National Political Director For President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign before assuming her role as OPM Director? What message will it send to other managers throughout the government — and private sector — if there isn’t accountability?”
The former governor also vowed to reverse Obama’s defense budgets and sequestration cuts on cyber security.
“Given the growing physical and cyber threats to our national security, it is past time to reverse the trend in defense and intelligence spending,” Bush added “If elected President, my budget will reflect the importance of protecting America from these threats, and I will undo the damage the President’s defense budgets and Sequestration have done to the Defense Department and Intelligence Community in this era of growing threats — cyber and traditional — to the United States and its citizens.”