Senator Obama's passport records breached in January 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Barack Obama.

Two low-level United States Department of State employees have been dismissed and a third employee disciplined over accessing the passport files of Senator Barack Obama "without a need to do so."

According to Assistant Secretary of State, Sean McCormack, on three separate incidents which occurred separately on January 9, February 21 and March 14, contract employees of the department's Bureau of Consular Affairs tasked with data entry accessed Obama's file. The breach seems like "imprudent curiosity" among the contract workers, and that senior management at the State Department was not aware of the incidents until Thursday afternoon

"A monitoring system was tripped when an employee accessed the records of a high-profile individual, When the monitoring system is tripped, we immediately seek an explanation for the records access. If the explanation is not satisfactory, the supervisor is notified."

Obama's campaign is asking for a complete investigation to find out who looked at Obama's passport file and why, and why the State Department did not reveal details of the security breach until now.

"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. Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes. 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," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton in a statement to the media.

A similar data breach took place in 1992 when State Department officials looked up data on presidential candidate Bill Clinton, in an attempt to find out information from the late 1960s, amid unfounded political campaign rumors that Mr. Clinton had sought to renounce his citizenship to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.

That incident triggered a three-year investigation by a special prosecutor, who found that no laws were violated but officials exercised poor judgment. The 1992 search of Mr. Clinton's passport records was part of an effort to speed up Freedom of Information Act requests.