VA delayed informing FBI about theft for two weeks

Congress wants to see heads roll over theft of vets' data from employee's home.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor
Why did the VA wait a full two weeks before informing the FBI that 26.5 million social security numbers and dates of birth had been stolen from an employee's home? That's what Senators and congressmen are demanding to know. And more than that, they're asking for VA Director Jim Nicholson's head on a silver platter, according to a report from the AP.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that "The President should call Secretary Nicholson into the woodshed for a serious shake-up in how the VA is run." Leahy called for Nicholson's resignation. Various House and Senate committees will convene this week to demand answers.

Nicholson said that the employee notified the VA immediately of the theft but that that "the selected release of information was to avoid compromising the investigation," as the AP reports it.

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho),chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, said his panel would hold an emergency hearing Thursday and call Nicholson to testify. "Twenty-six million people deserve answers," he said. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) introduced legislation late Tuesday that would require the VA to provide free credit monitoring and reports to the affected veterans.

In a written briefing to Congress, acting VA inspector general Jon Wooditch said the agency did not appear to do enough to prevent the breach.

Typically for the administration, Nicholson attempted to downplay the seriousness of the breach, saying there is no evidence the thieves targeted the employee or knew what they had. Apparently, they do now.

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