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Obama's Passport Data Breached: Two State Dept Employees Fired, Investigation Currently Underway


This could be an instance of a few over-eager Bush administration staffers who let their curiosity get the best of them, or it could be an instance of the Bush administration using federal resources to dig up dirt on a Democrat to help a Republican win an election. At this point, we don’t know.
Two State Department employees were fired and a third has been disciplined for improperly accessing Sen. Barack Obama’s passport file, the State Department announced last night.
Senior department officials said they learned of the incidents only when a reporter made an inquiry yesterday afternoon. They said an initial investigation indicated that the employees — all of whom worked on contract — were motivated by “imprudent curiosity.”
Bill Burton, spokesman for Obama’s presidential campaign, called the incidents “an outrageous breach of security and privacy.” He said this is “a serious matter that merits a complete investigation,” adding that the campaign will “demand to know who looked at Senator Obama’s passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach.”
Undersecretary of State Patrick F. Kennedy, in a hastily arranged conference call with reporters, said he asked the State Department inspector general to open an inquiry into the matter and acknowledged that it might need to be expanded.

This breach may have very well been illegal, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday requested a “full investigation.”

If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because a similar incident happened in 1992 with the first Bush administration — State Department officials looked up data on then-candidate Bill Clinton, due to Republican suspicions that he might have renounced his citizenship during the Vietnam War. (There was a three-year investigation by a special prosecutor, who found that officials showed poor judgment, but didn’t break any laws.)

As for Obama, this isn’t necessarily a scandal involving Bush administration officials using State Department files for opposition research. Indeed, there were three different contract officials on three different occasions breaking the rules, which doesn’t exactly sound like a coordinated campaign effort.

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