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Two Fired For Peeking At Obama’s Passport

From the inimitable New York Post:

SNEAKS PEEKED AT OBAMA FILE

FEDS AX 2 PASSPORT GAWKERS

By GEOFF EARLE Post Correspondent

March 21, 2008 — WASHINGTON – Two snooping State Department contract employees were fired for digging through Barack Obama’s restricted government passport files, in what the Obama camp termed an “outrageous breach of security and privacy.”

The State Department said the agency’s inspector general will investigate how the breach occurred – a subject already causing the administration embarrassment.

The incidents occurred in January, February and March, as Obama burst onto the national scene to become a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, but Obama wasn’t informed about it until yesterday, his campaign said. Passport files are supposed to be kept secure under the Privacy Act, and employees are instructed not to read them without authorization.

The fired employees got caught by a computer system that monitors people who dig into files of “high-profile” individuals.

A third State Department worker has been disciplined…

Senior staffers then briefed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and contacted Obama’s office yesterday.

Rice called Obama today and apologized.

“I told him that I was sorry, and I told him that I myself would be very disturbed,” Rice told reporters…

They couldn’t say for certain that the fired employees didn’t pass the information on.

Obama has a particularly diverse background that makes his file juicy. His father was from Kenya, and as a child, Obama lived in Indonesia – a country subject to travel warnings and terror threats.

He made a 2006 visit to Kenya that attracted national attention at the time, and more recently, when photos surfaced of him in tribal garb.

“It’s our initial view that this was imprudent curiosity on the part of these separate individuals,” McCormack said.

But on a conference call with reporters, Kennedy acknowledged the possibility that there could have been other motives.

“I don’t want to be dismissive of the possibility that it is something other than that,” he said. McCormack didn’t provide an explanation as to why Obama wasn’t informed sooner. The first breach occurred Jan. 9, just a day after the New Hampshire primary.

“This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years,” fumed Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

“This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation, and we 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.”

Haven’t we been through this before?

Moreover, it is already being reported that the perps were Clinton appointees.

Still, one suspects that the real reason this is being touted as urgent news is to take the Wright story out of the headlines.

After all, shouldn’t we know where our future President has been? (And what other “tribal garb” he has been donning.)

Why the secrecy?

  Update!

Here is a conveniently belated clarification, via Reuters:

Clinton, McCain passport records were also viewed

Fri Mar 21, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The passport files of presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, and Sen. John McCain, a Republican, were improperly accessed by State Department workers, a U.S. official said on Friday.

The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, declined further comment.

Again, shouldn’t we know where these people have been? Especially when we are often paying for their travels.

This is way down the scale on the “moral outrage” gauge. Except for when the media decide to create sympathy for one of their favorites when he is being criticized.

(Cf. the aforementioned Bill Clinton.)

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, March 21st, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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