Major US presidential candidates have passport files breached

Friday, March 21, 2008

Condoleezza Rice.

Just hours after firing two contract employees and disciplining a third for inappropriately examining the passport file of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Sen. Hillary Clinton that her passport file was also breached in 2007. Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, also had his file breached — this time by one of the same individuals who had examined Obama's records.

Both Clinton and McCain were informed that their files were improperly accessed, according to their Senate offices, after Rice called to apologize to Barack Obama for the incident hours before.

"I told him I was sorry and I told him that I myself would be very disturbed if anyone had looked at my passport file and that, therefore, I will stay on top of this," Rice said. "We are going to do an investigation through the inspector general. None of us want us to have a situation where any American's passport file is accessed in an unauthorized way."

According to Assistant Secretary of State, Sean McCormack, at least one breach occurred during a training session, with a contract employee brought in to deal with a large backlog of passport applications.

"We do feel that the system worked, but the system isn’t perfect," McCormack said.

Obama's response to the incident was "One of the things that the American people count on in their interactions with any level of government is that if they have to disclose personal information, then it is going to stay personal and stay private." He also told reporters he expects a full and thorough congressional investigation.

McCain, who was in France after recently traveling to Iraq responded to the incident stating, "The United States of America values everyone's privacy and corrective action should be taken."