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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.