Friday, March 21, 2008

Update: ALL THREE Presidential candidates' passport files were breached.

This is bigger than I thought: Now, McCain's and Clinton's files were breached, as well:

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Confidential passport files of all three presidential candidates were improperly breached by State Department employees, a department spokesman said.

The private data of Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Republican Senator John McCain were accessed in separate incidents, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said today.

``We're going to do a full investigation,'' McCormack said. ``We take very seriously the trust that is put in us'' to safeguard personal data, he said.

State Department officials are visiting the Capitol Hill offices of all three senators today in Washington to explain the incidents. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke by phone with Obama and Clinton to apologize and she plans to call McCain today, McCormack said.

As I said in my last post, this story is still developing. We'll see how it plays out.

McCormack cited an incident last summer when a trainee had unauthorized access to Hillary Clinton's passport file. It was part of a training seminar in which people usually ``are encouraged to enter a family member's name,'' McCormack said today in Washington. The individual was ``immediately admonished,'' he said.

The State Department also detected earlier this year that one of the people who accessed Obama's file also accessed McCain's, McCormack said. That individual was disciplined.

The State Department's inquiry began yesterday after a reporter inquired about the breach of Obama's records. After senior management researched the incidents surrounding Obama, they decided to check whether Clinton's and McCain's records also were breached. This morning, it became clear that they had, McCormack said.

They explain the circumstances behind Clinton's breach, but not behind any of the others.

On edit: I've decided it's too early to point fingers just yet. There are a few coincidences which seem to point to Clinton, but nothing anywhere near definitive, or even circumstantial. Sometimes I have to check myself to make sure I don't let my biases distort my view. This story is still developing, so I'll stick to the facts from here on out. My apologies for jumping the gun.

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