Friday, March 21, 2008

A common occurrence?

At the State Department, some contractors apparently thought it would be a fine thing to sort through Barack Obama's passport records:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday she has apologized to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for an incident in which State Department contractors unnecessarily reviewed his passport file.

The episode raises questions as to whether the actions of three contractors, two of whom have been fired, were politically motivated.

Rice said she spoke with Obama and told him she was sorry. The secretary said she "told him that I myself would be very disturbed."

It is not clear whether the employees saw anything other than the basic personal data such as name, citizenship, age and place of birth that is required when a person fills out a passport application.

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama's presidential campaign, called for a complete investigation.

"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," Burton said. "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."

There are certainly many questions about Barack Obama's background that are curious to say the least, and there are lots of things about the man we still don't know-indeed, it appears on some days as though Obama has come out of nowhere. This reality has led many Americans to be curious about him, and not a few rumors have circulated about who Obama is and what he is about precisely because his past is largely a mystery to many. I think the American people want to know much more about Obama than we do-but with even with that in mind, this was highly inappropriate and those involved need to all be fired.

There is no proof (nor will there likely ever be) that anyone in the current Administration authorized this action. You can say what you like about the President, but the operatives around him are too shrewd politically to think that a passport records pull could happen without it being found out in short order. What this does point to is the great unease that some citizens might have about Barack Obama, and it permeates even contractors working for the Government.

What ought to be investigated is not whether the Administration authorized pulling Obama's passport records, but rather how often are people's passport records and other private information pried into without proper authorization or without warning? That is what needs to be looked into-was what happened to Obama's passport records a common occurrence.

UPDATE: The State Department now says that the Passport Records of all three candidates were breached.

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