March 21, 2008

State Dept Workers Fired for Accessing Obama's Passport Info


The State Department says it is trying to determine whether three contract workers had a political motive for looking at Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's passport file.

Two of the employees were fired for the security breach and the third was disciplined but is still working, the department said Thursday night. It would not release the names of those who were fired and disciplined or the names of the two companies for which they worked. The department's inspector general is investigating.

The Obama campaign, sensing a possible escape route from Barack's current string of self-inflicted wounds, quickly moved into victim-mode.

Milk it, baby.

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."

As noted by the well-traveled Jim Geraghty, the only personal data that would be in Obama's passport that is not already publicly-accessible information would be the Illinois Senator's Social Security Number and his travel history. Geraghty then goes on to speculate about a certain rival campaign that might be interested in accessing that travel information.

Left-of-center blogger Will Bunch at Attytood follows that line of speculation and digs up an interesting nugget in his update:

  1. The office that handles passports, consular affairs, is indeed run by a woman named Maura Harty, who's a....wait for it -- Clinton administration holdover. Remember, no one has implicated her or any State Department employees -- the two people who were fired were contract workers.
  2. The greatest interest in Obama's overseas travel has been expressed by Clinton supporters. One area of interest -- and I really don't understand what exactly they were getting at -- is Obama's European travels, or non-travels.

There are links attached to that speculation, but I think it only fair you go over to Bunch's site, read what he has to say, and click on the links there.

So, are the Clinton's behind this?

Could be, but other bloggers on the left have immediately focused—sigh—on BushCheneyHalliburtonRove, the real source of all the world's ills.

John Amato's post on the subject is typical in this vein, as is Skippy's capitalization-challenged entry (Note to Skippy: the whole "e.e. cummings" orthography was cute in eighth-grade, but unless you wanted to regarded on the same intellectual plane as the other noted current practitioner of that form, it is well past time to "move on").

So which political camp is behind this?

While my speculation is hinged on nothing more substantial than anyone else's, I suspect that it is just what it appears; a couple of contractors that had their curiosity get the better of them.

I worked for a financial services company years ago, and trainers that would use the dummied copies of the accounts of certain internationally-known celebrity clients in orientation to keep the class awake. There was never any ill-will involved in using the client's accounts, just a certain sort of stupid Stuart-ish "look what I can do!" voyeuristic element premised more on curiosity than malice.

That in mind, I rather doubt that any particular political motivation was behind this, even though a Clinton campaign tie seems like intriguing blog-fodder if it can be proven that the employees were Clinton supporters.

If, on the other hand, the turn out to be over-enthusiastic Obamaniacs trying to get a little closer to their hero,expect the news cycle on this to be shortened as a result.

Of course, for now, the Obama campaign is relishing in the breach, as it takes—if only for fleeting moments—the focus away from Obama's "pastor problem" and the fallout from the vacuous speech he gave where he refused to cut ties to Rev. Wright or his church's radical, racially-focused, Marxist-driven Black Liberation theology.

Obama will milk this story for all it's worth, for a long as he can.

I think, however, that the damage is already done.

Update: Sorry Obama. Clinton and McCain had their files breached as well. So much for this ginned-up outrage being able to long obscure his real problems.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 21, 2008 09:47 AM

If BushRoveChenenyHALIBURTON!McHitlerShrub wanted to see Obama's travel records, they wouldn't have been caught.

Posted by: Techie at March 21, 2008 09:56 AM

Two minds:
First, what happened here was a misuse of government office and an invasion of privacy. The firings were correct and the only pity is that more incidents like this don't end in discovery and punishment.

However... I am forced to wonder why exactly the Obama camp has taken the line that they have over this. Their response has been reminescent of a twelve-year-old with a guilty conscience: "There's NOTHING in my closet, especially not on the top shelf behind the sweaters! How DARE you open my closet door!"
C'mon, guys: It's his travel records... it's not like someone pulled up, say, his FBI security clearance files or something...

Posted by: DaveP. at March 21, 2008 11:03 AM

Passport records only contain the information required for your passport. It does not contact travel records contrary to popular belief. Go to state's website and download an application. You'll see that most of the stuff that is on these things is already known like parents, address, physical features, names and so forth. This is far from a conspiracy as suggested by MSNBC and more probably some snoopy employees that got carried away.

Posted by: JWSmith at March 21, 2008 02:13 PM

Nice udder.

Posted by: megapotamus at March 21, 2008 03:06 PM

Please note that Amb. Maura Harty retired from the Foreign Service at the end of last month.

Considering that she was a career officer of the senior foreign service, her State Dept. career almost certainly predated the Clinton administration by some years.

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at March 22, 2008 01:31 AM

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at March 22, 2008 02:29 AM

Via Instapundit, an Obama supporter owned the company at least one of these clowns worked for. Rove, you magnificent b*st*rd!

Posted by: SDN at March 23, 2008 03:06 AM
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The CEO of a company whose employee is accused of improperly looking at the passport files of presidential candidates is a consultant to the Barack Obama campaign, a source said Saturday.

Let's see .. a Clinton hold over and a company run by an Obama supporter.

I guess McCain should be outraged.

Posted by: Neo at March 24, 2008 06:42 PM

Hmmm... this broke during the Wright fiasco... perhaps Obama was actively looking for something to change the news stories?

Just thinking out loud...

Posted by: C-C-G at March 25, 2008 08:22 AM