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. The State Department, thru its private contractor, breached the passport records of Obama, Clinton and McCain, CNN reports. Condi Rice apologizes at this video link.
After the Washington Post broke the story on Thursday, the State Dept. held a press conference on Friday. The International Herald Tribune reports that spokesman, Sean McCormack, was offended at the suggestion that the privacy breach may have been politically motivated:
"One reporter, asking a question, noted in passing that 'the whole story looks like a new Watergate scandal.'
"McCormack interrupted. 'You know what? You know what? That is so outrageous,' he said. 'You just lost your privilege.' McCormack refused to acknowledge the reporter for the remainder of the news conference."
In the Land of the Three-Letter Agencies, it's apparently not allowed to ask government officials tough questions. Heaven forbid the Fourth Estate should not be "for the state" as Amy Goodman is known to say.
California Democrat Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted that the Bush Administration previously spied on Clinton. But then, it was Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton involved.
The circumstances in this case may be different from the George H.W. Bush Administration's snooping into Bill Clinton's passport records during the 1992 presidential campaign. But it is worth noting that that earlier situation also was characterized as isolated and non-political when the news initially emerged.
This time, as then, Congress will pay close attention to the depth of Executive Branch involvement in the rifling of presidential candidates' passport files.
The IHT reports:
A Republican political appointee was demoted after the State Department's inspector general said the official had been trying to find politically damaging information about Clinton, who had been rumored to have considered renouncing his citizenship to avoid the Vietnam War draft.
While a person's travel history is reportedly not maintained in these records, it is a curiosity that candidates' files would be improperly accessed during campaign season.
Given the Bush family passion for spying, we should not be surprised at the rampant rise in data security breaches this millennium.
For links to other DATA SECURITY BREACHES, see:
Friedman, Brad. "Worm attacked voter database in notorious Florida district: Machine in hotly contested 13th Congressional District lain low by Slammer on first day of election." May 16, 2007.
Allan Holmes, FEMA Puts Sensitive Info at Risk, July 3, 2007.
Jonathan Krim, Net Aids Theft of Sensitive ID Data: Critical Social Security numbers widely available. April 4, 2005. http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/printer_040405Z.shtml