The Breach: McCain Dates, Not Obama Dates?

As you’ve no doubt heard, three second-rate burglars have been caught accessing Obama’s passport files. The WaPo reports the tree days when his files were accessed:

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the employees had individually looked into Obama’s passport file on Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and March 14. To access such a file, the employees must first acknowledge a pledge to keep the information private.

To which Josh connects three events:

A few more details about the Obama passport breach. According to a new piece out in the Post from Glenn Kessler, the breaches occurred Jan. 9th, Feb. 21st and March 14th.

That would be the day after the New Hampshire primary, the day of the Democratic debate in Texas and the day the Wright story really hit.

I’m rather more interested in two of the dates on the Republican side. The day after the New Hampshire primary (when it became clear McCain’s campaign was far from dead), and the day of the Texas primary (when McCain sealed the nomination). After all, New Hampshire was a set-back for Obama. Why would a Democrat waste bribes to do oppo research on Obama when it looked, once again, like Hillary would win the primary? But I can understand why McCain would start doing oppo research at a time when his chances started looking up.

Though, I would still have to explain the February 21 date. 

78 replies
  1. allan says:

    Substitute (2000, Bush, Clinton, Albright) for (2008, Obama, Bush, Rice) and
    you would have Ken Starr issuing subpoenas like there was no tomorrow.

  2. paulo says:

    I think you are thinking too hard to try to connect the dots. After 8 years of a Bush/Cheney/Rove administration who would be left at state that would do the oppo research for anyone BUT McCain?

    Granted Mittman et al could possibly have partisams but who would a Bush loyaltist actually do the work for? Kinda asking the question gives you the answer. No?

  3. BlueStateRedHead says:

    For what it’s worth, IIRC, in 1992:

    the search was motivated be WH’s desire to connect Bill’s trip to the USSR as a Rhodes Scholar with communism

    the search was a physical search in the national archives’s annex in MD. I know tht archives storage area, and that is a major operation requiring expert knowledge.

    An archivist raised the alert.

    and IIRC recently,
    the double exposing of the names of whistleblowers in communication with Waxman was the work of a supposedly non-affiliated contract worker.

    Of course you know all this, but as you are on vacation, I thought I would introduce some dots for you to connect, although I admit they are fuzzier than any you wld. offer.

    • BlueStateRedHead says:

      The state dept. issues passports. BC’s passport records in 1992 were some 20 or so years old–don’t remember the dates of his year at Oxford–and wld have been archived by the national archives, the depository for ever dept/branch. They would not have been available except in physical form.

      Obama’s passport records wld be his current ones, the ones that go through the post 9/11 airline passenger no fly list computers.

      Hi, old coastie. Did you see that D. Bowen is getting the JFK lib. Profile in courage award for throwing out the flawed ballot computers?

      • OldCoastie says:

        good for Bowen – she deserves it!

        I’m just wondering what kind of information could be in the passport records that were accessed that would be valuable from a political standpoint… Talk Left published a list – application, change of address – all that ordinary stuff… that is usually in a passport file… what could anyone find in this particular file?

        • PetePierce says:

          The obvious superficial guess (the one I make) is of course travel records they could construe to be derogatory. I may be naive, but I believe an awful lot of fishing on either potential Dem candidate is going to turn up very dry for them.

          Maybe this was just idle curiosity, but there will be hundreds of other attempts and I think they are going to be wasted time.

          • OldCoastie says:

            and why would they go after it 3 times? would the records change that much in those 3 months? wouldn’t Obama’s travel schedule be pretty transparent?

            • PetePierce says:

              Yes good points. There could have been different nosy people or this could have been a pattern with more of a sinister intent.

              I have seen extensive lists of all the ways our privacy is invaded now and they are mind boggling and I’m sure the lists are the tip of the iceberg. For every one of the agencies that run these shows, there is probably extensive gratuitous snooping, parallel DOJ fishing for prosecution,parallel NSA and all the other alphabet agencies and the terrorist center madly trying to strike gold to justify their expensive and bumbling existences,and parallel snooping by whomever now runs the machines that Rove, Taylor and the gang ran.

        • Dismayed says:

          They’re going to turn over every stone they can on Obama. He’s pretty clean, so their going to fish any pool they can find to fish.

          Perhaps they find another trip to Africa, OK – where’d he go, let’s find out who he saw, did they take any photos, perhaps someone who was no one then is someone compromising now.

          Perhaps he has an old friend in South America that now “has ties’ with Chavez. They don’t know what they’re looking for, but now they will send out spies to snoop around one every trip the guy ever took, they may get lucky and find something they can use.

          This is clearly oppo research. I’d say someone interested in seeing the two illuminati approved candidates, Clinton and McCain preserved. Not from either campaign, but from deep within the corporate camp and if they find anything they’ll use a cut out to get it out. Clinton or McCain benifits, all the same to them in the end.

    • PetePierce says:

      State Department Records might encompass an infinite amount of documents. I think that the passport “files” what this form requests but I still don’t understand what exactly might be in them, or what generates them–travel that requires a passport including procuring one?:

      Application for Passport File

  4. BlueStateRedHead says:

    Fuzzier still.

    These are contract employees’ bosses dates, looking for info to ingratiate their company–which will of course be a Repub. firm with ties to the RNC–with the newly possible candidate. I can’t imagine that NH/Jan. 9th, McCain’s staff had the time and where with all to find those contract employees or even believed it necessary

    Rogue employees’ prurient interest is this admin’s version of the two bit burglary. I can’t wait to see what Obama’s lawyers are going to do–Any opening for civil action that will force State to reveal the co.’s names.

      • PetePierce says:

        I’m thinking whatever is substantive/ germane, we’ll never see, and when events like this surface, the word mistake is brandished and they’re swept under the rug. That clip with Cheney saying “so what” when asked about the atrocity of Iraq is a metaphor that says it all.

      • BlueStateRedHead says:

        Did I mention emails? If so, I was indeed not thinking, because I had no intention to do s. G’nite all.

          • BlueStateRedHead says:

            Insomnia brings me back.
            question for Bmaz, but rest assured discovery is older and more extensive than just emails.

  5. pdaly says:

    Have a great vacation, EW. We know how your vacations do bring about newsworthy events.

    Off topic (I’m afraid I’m good at this) Daniel Ellsburg’s former apartment at 10 Hilliard St, Cambridge, MA is on the market. No mention in the real estate ad about its famous resident in June of 1971. 10 Hilliard is a condo now.

    Here’s an excerpt from Ellsberg’s Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, page 393 from the Chapter “Going Underground”:

    “Before we [Ellsberg and his wife Patricia] left the hotel room, we turned on the TV to catch the local morning news. We saw our own porch at 10 Hilliard Street on the screen, with two men identified as FBI agents knocking on the door. The announcer explained that they were seeking to question Daniel Ellsberg for possible help in their investigation of the leak of the Pentagon Papers. [snip] …For the next several days we moved through various motels in Cambridge. Later, hideouts in apartments and houses in Cambridge were found for us. It was twelve days before we got back to our apartment.”

  6. pdaly says:

    At the opposite end of the political operative spectrum, on April 4, 2008 Karl Rove will be in Cambridge, MA as a guest of Harvard College’s student group the Harvard Republican Club (HRC). According to this Harvard Crimson newspaper article, the event “is slated to take place in the Winthrop Junior Common Room and to be open to all members of the Harvard community.

    “Someone with the type of political genius he has happens only once in a generation, and when we have the chance to bring someone like that here, it’s a great opportunity,” said HRC President Caleb L. Weatherl ’10.


  7. BlueStateRedHead says:

    Lots of speculation on…..910/481166

    3/14–looking for evidence where he was/wan’t during Rev. Wright’s speech
    trying to make a connection between African travel and some gaffe, as in case of Mosley Braun.

    Company suggested Stanley Co. that handles all passport applications.

    Wash. times scrubbed it page to make the story break today when in fact it broke yesterday (but at exactly midnight who knows when today is–commenter not clear on which day it was.

    That’s it for me, over and out for this East coastie.

  8. watercarrier4diogenes says:

    Faux Noise will probably link it to the snoops into Britney’s med/psych records, prominently displaying salivation-inducing pics of Britney in the background for the whole bit. Bill-O might even drool for us…

  9. PetePierce says:

    OT: I watched Charley Rose last night with several experts including Iraqis, and Packer, and tonight Perle and a surge planner are on and the level of delusion and naivitie is striking. There is no grasp of the stagnation in the political process whatsoever and a “little golden book” grasp of the dynamics on the ground.

  10. GregB says:

    No problem, we’ve found the culprits:

    “Imprudent curiosity by low level employees.”

    That should end this little kerfuffle.


    • Dismayed says:

      And that could very well be true, but then that’s what they would say, isn’t it? We’ll never know, but rest assured, someone doing oppo research has looked a Obama’s travel data. If this wasn’t that, it happened somewhere. This little thing here may just be Rove’s innoculation for the guys who will really pull it. There is no privacy – that battle is lost.

      • PetePierce says:

        There hasn’t been a scintilla of privacy for at least 8 years, maybe more.

        There have been gamuts of people doing oppo research–some on the payroll of RNC and some on the payroll of 327 and private Swift Boatesque fetishists.

        The delicious humor is in the irony that McCain has feet of prodigious clay and despite his years in Washington he has a child’s grasp of Iraq and most domestic issues.

        If Obama wants, he will have equally effective oppo research. The difference is that although the MSM and press have been looking the other way with McCain because they are systemically incompetent, there are all kinds of nuggets to mine but I don’t think Obama needs them to win the general.

        I’m going to enjoy watching Obama cave him.

        This big drum beat for Oppo Research by the Joe Scarborough/Tucker Carlson types

          • PetePierce says:

            *g* You have to be getting as tired of hearing Jerimiah scream as I am. I found it funny to hear the Republican types warning grimmly that Jerimiah Wright will be this huge critical albatross around Obama’s neck if he were the candidate. I give ‘the electorate’ much more credit, but I do recognize for some demographic subsets of voters, Wright might cost Obama votes.

            I don’t know what they want him to do. You have to be so ready to grasp some wave of bias that you aren’t listening to or looking at Obama to think Wright defines his rhetoric.

            I haven’t been to a lot of black churches, but all you have to do is keep your ears open on the street to understand that people like Wright use this kind of rhetoric all the time to motivate their congregations.

            I’d rather see 100 Wrights by the way than slick BS artist preachers who are part of megachurch money machines–and I’m not trying to paint them with a broad brush stroke.

            How ya doin?

  11. PetePierce says:

    This big drum beat for Oppo Research by the Joe Scarborough/Tucker Carlson types is full of sound and fury signifying something that will continue to fall flat and frustrate the crap out of them.

  12. Sedgequill says:

    Who checks up on whether data from agency files or entire files get sent to contractor or contractor employee file systems? Are there audit provisions in the contracts? Are agencies relying upon private companies to design, install, or maintain records systems without monitoring contractor access to records that the systems keep? Those questions are among those that make me uneasy about reliance upon contracts with the private sector for sensitive government operations.

  13. Sedgequill says:

    Among my concerns in 32 above I should have mentioned these possibilities: weak or no controls on use of portable media and devices, unlogged access to copy machines, and—not least—unrestricted or unlogged access to electronic or paper files; some people can remember a lot.

  14. Loo Hoo. says:

    I’m fine, Pete. You? Just worried that the republicans can possibly pull this off again. I don’t think so, but then I didn’t in 2004 either. This time, hopefully-and based on democratic turn out vs. republican turnout in the primaries, we’ll win.

    We just had a kick off for Robert Hamilton, running against Darrell Issa, and had about 100 people show up. It was fantastic. People with money and energy. The North County Times was mysteriously absent, though…I’m his volunteer coordinator, and his calendar for house parties is getting really busy!

    • PetePierce says:

      I’m glad to hear about good opposition for Issa and that you’re helping–I know that takes a lot of work.

      Two days ago Senator Saxby Chambliss got a challenger who could beat him if there is enough momentum from Democratic coat tails in the general–a very experienced lawyer named Jim Martin who was a state legislator for years and has run several campaigns. There wasn’t any real significant challenger who had a chance before this. Chambliss is a complete Bush yes man (91% voting record for Bush) and exactly what you don’t want in the Senate, so this is good news.

  15. Loo Hoo. says:

    Pete, has Jim Martin gotten any notice from the top of the dem party? Hamilton has not yet, as far as I know. Does anyone know how to get that ball rolling?

    • PetePierce says:

      This is an announcement that was just made public yesterday morning so there isn’t much info. I know him and he’s a great guy. He helped run legislation on judiciary committees for years. I don’t have experience in actual campaign organizations, but I can give you good news on that front.

      He has strong backing from a former Georgia governor Roy Barnes, and he has been meeting with top people in the local state democratic circles. Barnes knows national democrats from his years as governor so that’s going to happen. So does Martin–he was a force in a state legislature for 18 years.

      Barnes was the chairman of John Edwards’ campaign in the state of Georgia where this is taking place–he knows the Clintons well, and many democatic national people/and campaign experts so contacts shouldn’t be a problem.

      Barnes also is a very formidiable trial lawyer not unlike Edwards who has taken on a lot of big forces and won–both in civil and criminal arenas. He tackled “payday loans”, and is going after them now in federal court, and has won some huge criminal cases.

      Chambliss has 4+ million bucks as a Repblican who has had access to their war chest and no significant opp until now, but this will be a serious and well run campaign. Just as you recognized in California, the turnout could make a significant difference. Of course Republicans are going to turn out and independents in the general because of all the compelling issues, but if young voters finally do turnout in big numbers in this election, and African Americansdo (two groups who haven’t turned out heavily historically) then those voters are going to vote for the downticket people.

      • Loo Hoo. says:

        Good news for you!!

        We keep hoping that the change in demographics in CA-49 along with the stinking republican brand will help us take down Issa. The growingest area in all of California is the inland empire, which is part of our district. Nobody is delusional about Issa, who can self-finance, but we’re not prepared to just give up this time around.

  16. BlueStateRedHead says:

    FWIWorth, a poster shows Susan Hsu mentioned wanting Obama’s passport on MY DD.…..861/481215


    1. Curious about Susan Hu’s comment Feb19

    About Obama’s passport. she wrote this Feb 19 at MyDDin a comment thread linked at the second Obama passport diary tonight here at DKos. I am curious because of her connection to No Quarter, Larry Johnson’s web site. Johnson’s comments on CNN tonight, kind of like don’t look here, makes me very curious.

    Maura Harty- Larry Johnson- Steve Clemons- Susan Hu

    Then the dates of the breaches matching Dem primary vote events and matching Obama ‘travel’ comments from the Hillary campaign- LFeinstein.

    All Hill advocates and in a position to effect this kind of thing.If Larry hadn’t called into the CNn show and basically said nothing to see here, I’d be looking more at Harty.

    by foggycity on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 12:39:07 AM EDT

    2. Just wanted to place this quote in thread for the
    …. benefit of those looking at this from every angle, those that want to be blind about it please ignore.

    “I heartily concur. Indies, i love your spirit and your diaries. And, Andrew, you know I think the world of your diaries, your writing ability, and your positive attitude.

    We desperately need a president who’s savvy about the ways of Washington, DC — won’t have to spend two to four years learning just how stubborn and nasty the Republicans will be. He has spent so little time in the U.S. Senate, and there he hasn’t done very much — I must mention his Subchairmanship of the European Affairs committee for the Foreign Relations committee — that subchair includes NATO (!) — and he’s done nothing. Not even a hearing. Steve Clemons, as fair and decent a person as you can find, tried and tried and tried to get a record of any visits by Obama to European capitals or NATO. Nada. Steve said that Obama’s Senate office could just give him Obama’s passport record, and that would make it clear, but they never responded beyond vague statements that, yes, he’d been to Europe (like for a night enroute to another trip).

    He may make an excellent president someday. But he needs to work more, and learn more.

    by susanhu on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:52:35 PM EST
    [ Parent ]”

    by foggycity on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 12:53:52 AM EDT

    [ ]

  17. Sedgequill says:

    Computerworld’s Patrick Thibodeau reports that Department of State’s security monitoring system flagged the access incidents.

  18. Sedgequill says:

    ABC’s Jake Tapper has a transcript of a conference call with DoS management concerning the handling of the Obama passport file incidents.

  19. HmblDog says:

    Can we get a copy of the official protocol that is to be followed when unauthorized access occurs? Are we able to say that the official protocol wasn’t followed?
    At least one government agency ensures that all employees and contractors are trained and informed regarding the importance of safegaurding information and the consequences for instances of unauthorized access. And yet they still do it. They’ve been told that they will get caught and yet they still do it and they still get fired for it. Sometimes there is a personal motive such as accessing a relatives file or a business associate but more often than not it is just dumb curiosity.
    Has there been unauthorized access to the files of Bono or Madonna or Michael Jordan? Would we be aware of it if so? If a celebrities files are accessed without authorization is the celebrity notified?
    My point is that this happens routinely regardless of the precautions taken by the government.
    The fact that we have such a large number of contractors doing the government’s work now is a topic worthy of discussion all on it’s own.
    I’m all for getting a full investigation of what happened and who knew what when and what did they do as soon as they knew it.
    I’m sure though that if we find that there was no political motivation behind any of this that Senator Obama would like to see that the privacy of all Americans is equally protected under the law and that we don’t find this reprehensible only because it happened to someone important.

  20. Sedgequill says:

    There should be a strict protocol covering instances of flagged access, and automated warnings (when access is electronic) should be transmitted to high levels of management. There should be none of this excuse that so-and-so didn’t consider flagged access a matter worth sending up the ladder.

    • BooRadley says:


      This is a good chance for Congress to learn about how State and the entire Bush administration handled such automated warnings.

      The “prurient interest” excuse is so symptomatic of the TMZ approach that the GOP takes to opposition research.

  21. ProfessorFoland says:


    Feds Open Criminal Probe Into Alcoa

    The U.S. Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation into whether aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. participated in bribery in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.

    The scheme began in 1993 and is ongoing, but was not found out until last year, the lawsuit claimed. The lawsuit also alleged the bribes were sent through a series of shell companies the defendants ultimately controlled.

    I mention it here because Paul O’Neill, who wrote very critically of Bush after being his Treasury Secretary, was chairman & CEO of Alcoa in the time period under investigation…

    • Rayne says:

      Oh crap. I worked for a guy who left a Fortune 100 company to go to work in uppermost finance at Alcoa in 1994. Wonder if he’ll get caught up in this, too. Not a Dem, but what I would have thought of as a hard-bitten straight arrow.

      Back to the subject at hand: wanderindiana was trying to track down the contractor in question last night in regards to access of the passport files.…..880/481172

      Looked like he may have stopped at Stanley Associates.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Fortune 500 companies do, indeed, engage in such shenanigans. But it’s far from clear whether Alcoa did, and hard to find a credible reason why the DOJ would announce this now.

      Normal tax audits, for example, by definition are looking at several years past. But it’s impossible to give this administration the benefit of the doubt. Not after Siegelman, Nacchio, et al. Not after the public criticism leveled at, eg, the Pittsburgh USA over her suit against a Democratic Pennsylvanian coroner that’s so egregious that the former Republican state governor, now in private practice, is defending him. (The coroner is also a leading critic of the medical “evidence” presented in the Kennedy assassination.)

      My first question would be whether this is part of a comprehensive rear-guard action to try to keep credible, well-financed and well-respected – but critical – mouths shut. Via a technique that will be unavailable to them in nine months’ time.

  22. Mauimom says:

    I watched this unfold on BOTH Keith Olbermann programs last night [rather than repeating his 8 pm broadcast @ 10, he stayed on and did another live]. One person he interviewed was Eric Holder, one of Obama’s campaign chairs. Holder is REALLY smart and has a background as a prosecutor [I think he was a USA in DC], so you can be sure the Obama campaign will know how to ask the right questions.

    For now, I’m amazed at how little coverage this is getting in the MSM. [I know, “do I still believe in the Easter Bunny?”]

  23. Citizen92 says:

    I’m really not sure what to make of this story but the Clinton-connected conspiracy theories really give me pause. But I can’t see this as anything more than Bush Administration “scandal.”

    -Precedent. A previous Bush Administration has searched passport files before and was caught. Many have pointed this out.

    -Mismanagement. You’ll recall that the whole US passport program was in disarray at the end of 2007 because the Bush Administration failed to plan for the Canada-Mexico-Carribean travel changes. Waits were stretching on for months. It’s possible these offending contractors may have been brought in to fill the gaps that the Bush Administration allowed to happen.

    -Mismanagement II. You’ll also recall that Condi Rice refuses to take even symbolic responsibility for the day-to-day management of State. Blackwater contract? US Embassy in Baghdad? Contractor fraud? Cookie Krnogard? (A Relevant Article from the Post)

    -Cover Up. Someone at State knew and didn’t report it up the chain. If a system was installed to track this information, then surely SOMEONE thought it to be important. So where did the info stop, or who suppressed it and why?

    The Nutty Conspiracy Stuff

    -Pat Kennedy. Was getting a lot of badmouthing yesterday on Kos and CNN. He’s worked for State since the 70’s. He’s a careerist, one of those folks the Bushies are trying to run out of government. Some were trying to make the case he was a Clinton plant. But his biggest jobs have come during the Bush Administration – first, he was the #3 at the UN. Then, he was the Admin coordinator for the newly created office of Director of National Intelligence. Now he’s an Assistant Secretary of State for something. (And all jobs carry the title of Ambassador). He’s not a Clinton plant. He may be a bad manager, or he may be willing to clean up all the Bush poop, but he’s not a Clinton plant.

    -The Consular Affairs Ambassador. The lady who used to be an Ambassador to Paraguay under the Clinton Administration. Again, accusations that she was a Clinton plant. She too is a career foreign service officer. Her posting to Paraguay was as a career staffer at State – not as a political appointee. Administratively, yes, it’s accurate to say Clinton appointed her – because that’s the statuatory job of the President. But that’s just like saying that Clinton made Maj. Joe Bob a colonel in the US Army. The President “signs off” on all officer military promotions too. Again, crazy wild speculation. But this lady should be dinged for running a loose ship.

    And just what are in these files anyway? Old passport applications? Birth certificate copies? Old headshot photos? Copies of old passports issued (you have to send in your old passport for review when you apply for a new one). Casework files? What did they really expect to find in there? That just tells me that just like those 1992 Bushies that looked through Clinton’s papers, the perpetrators were wholly ignorant of what would even be in the files.

    It just smacks of stupidity and then a coverup. And AS ALWAYS, it’s the coverup that gets you in trouble.

    • brendanx says:

      “Cover Up. Someone at State knew and didn’t report it up the chain. If a system was installed to track this information, then surely SOMEONE thought it to be important. So where did the info stop, or who suppressed it and why?”

      Yes. If a computer system is really volunteering such alerts (I’m skeptical) it should be by definition offering the information to important people. Either this story of “triggered” alerts is false, or the “senior” officials supposedly only alerted by a reporter are lying about when they knew.

    • bmaz says:

      And just what are in these files anyway?

      A whole hell of a lot of info is in there actually. And there is, starting a little over a year ago, likely to be a lot more info than there used to be. RFID chips and tagging exponenetially expand the ability for mischief with government scrutiny.

      • Citizen92 says:

        Senator Obama would also have a red cover “Official” passport.

        Issuance of Official passports is coordinated through the Sergeant at Arms Office, I think.

        Generally, government officials (and employees) are given these passports when conducting overseas business for the US Government. Some very senior officials (as well as all State Department Foreign Service Officers) are issued black cover Diplomatic Passports. Additionally, sometimes members of the US Armed Forces are issues passports for work, but not always. (Soldiers in Iraq do not have passports).

        I wonder if there’s a distinction or seperate files for the regular passport and the official/diplomatic passports.

  24. Sara says:

    As was pointed out on KO’s show last night, Obama’s Passport File would go back to when he was just 5 or 6, and when his mother re-married and they went to Indonesia, where, as we all learned, little Barack attended a radical Madrassa!!! Anyhow, State would have his travel records from that period, right up till the present. Every visa he ever had stamped in his passport, (recorded on renewal) and all his entry-exit dates.

    You know if you were one of those Republican Script Writers in Oppo Research there would be lots there you could speculate about.

    Anyhow, it is time to get after Joe Biden, Chair of Foreign Relations, and tell him to get going with the preliminary research for a hearing on all this should State fail to properly refer for investigation. The Ranking Member is Richard Lugar, and he is something of a friend of Obama’s. At least Foreign Relations has a clear avenue for calling Condi in and giving her the time of day.

  25. Citizen92 says:

    State would have his travel records from that period, right up till the present. Every visa he ever had stamped in his passport, (recorded on renewal) and all his entry-exit dates.

    I’ve heard this a lot, but I don’t understand how State would have this information.

    Travel Records. As a foreign traveler, you are not required to give your flight details to the State Department, nor do they track it. There is no way the State Department would have a complete record of his travel plans.

    Visas. Visas are issued by foreign countries, not the State Department. If you apply for a Russian visa, the Russians do not contact the US State Department to let them know you are going to Russia. There is no way the State Department would have a complete record of foreign visas issued to him.

    No, the best intelligence the State Department would have would have come through physical examinations of his old passports. When you re-apply for a new passport, you have to provide the expiring one. At that point, the consular officer/issuer who’s putting together your new passport can look through the book pages and see the stamps and visas in there. Maybe they make a note. Maybe they make a copy. But some contries don’t stamp passports. Others forget to. Others will not stamp at the user’s request.

    The State Department is not all-knowing, and it CERTAINLY would not have been all knowing in the pre-info age if the 60’s-80’s.

    Now if Obama had a talent for “losing” his US passport or having it “stolen” repeatedly, then that would raise the stakes. If one of Obama’s “stolen/lost” passports was used by an illegal alien or terrorist, another problem.

    But this whole “all knowing” State Department stuff is fictitious pie in the sky.

  26. Citizen92 says:

    I missed this the first time. From the 1992 article:

    In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the State Department’s passport office kept a computerized file on more than 243,000 Americans who were suspected of being “subversives” or who might fail to “reflect credit” on the nation abroad.

  27. monzie says:

    I think it was Pete Wilson on MSNBC (Oberman) who said that US ambassadors or consuls in foreign countries may have remarks included in a US visitor’s passport file. If that is the case, those remarks might be of interest.

  28. Citizen92 says:

    From the passport application form “Privacy Act” section:

    ROUTINE USES: The information solicited on this form may be made available as a routine use to other government agencies to assist the
    U.S. Department of State in adjudicating passport applications and requests for related services, and for law enforcement and administrative
    purposes. The information may be made available to foreign government agencies to fulfill passport control and immigration duties.
    The information may also be provided to foreign government agencies, international organizations and, in limited cases, private persons
    and organizations to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise address potential violations of law or to further the Secretary’s responsibility for the protection of U.S. citizens and non–citizen nationals abroad. The information may be made available to private U.S. citizen ‘wardens’
    designated by the U.S. embassies and consulates. For a more detailed listing of the routine uses to which this information may be put, see
    the Prefatory Statement of Routine Uses and the listing of routine users set forth in the system descriptions for Overseas Citizen Services
    Records (State–05) and Passport Records (State–26) published in the Federal Register.

    I believe this language changed significantly recently. Before it detailed the rights of citizens under the Privacy Act of 1974.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Cassandras, EW, are never welcome; necessary, but never welcome.

    Let’s see who else’s passport files, besides the leading contenders for the presidency, have been “breached”. Or have they all simply been copied into some DHS mega-database that has the security of a Little League ball diamond?

    And what would be in those files that makes accessing them worth jail time? Or, were they illegally accessed by screened and cleared and monitored outsourced workers in the bowels of the secrecy-filled State Department out of a misdirected sense of Rovian completeness? You know, never leave any muddy stone unturned or dirty trick untried.

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Which would be worse?

    Learning that oppo researchers had gained access to secret State Department files on a daily basis – via one of Bush’s ubiquitous outsourcing contractors.

    Or, that the screening and clearing process for working with these critical records was so bad, the wages and standards so low, that it hires the equivalents of John Belushi as Dean Faber’s assistant?

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Glenn Greenwald asks a good questions:

    Whatever the outcome of the Obama passport investigation is, whoever the parties responsible are and whatever their motives, shouldn’t this rather conclusively demonstrate the complete folly, the serious dangers, of continuing to vest in the government powers to spy on and collect data about Americans with no oversight?

  32. brendanx says:

    Does anyone know when McCain’s was breached? The report I read said, “earlier this year”, but that could technically mean…yesterday.

  33. JohnLopresti says:

    There are likely to be international political persons interested in researching the development of presidential candidates in the US. I found interesting some of the commenters’ links, and observed we remain without the contractor overseas oversight which congress included in the Defense bill signed in January, and that the current IG at State is interim, having replaced an IG early 2008 who was involved in diffuse oversight of the matters congress was addressing in instituting an oversight body to monitor overseas expenditures for defense contracting work. TPMM covered the CookieK matter pretty thoroughly. Prof. CKelley continues coverage of the as yet unconstituted oversight entity for overseas contract auditing, there.
    I liked @63’s link to the embedded chip passport clarion; one of its early developers continues interested in that WoolMurT distribution technology after a series of startups seems to have found a strong and knowledgeable board currently JazzTech, but, the stockprice has plummeted.

  34. Quzi says:

    Have you heard the latest per MSNBC

    State Department employees snooped through the passport files of three presidential candidates — Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain — and the department’s inspector general is investigating.

    • brendanx says:

      Did you notice that at first it was only Obama, then they conveniently, er, conscienscientiously dug up the Clinton and McCain “breaches”?

  35. watercarrier4diogenes says:

    This just up on Daily Kos by Kagro X:

    Oopsies! Hillary’s passport files breached too. And McCain’s. How about Rockefeller’s?

    Especially like his idea of asking about specific names of others whose files might have been breached, on the premise that if you don’t ask them about a specific name, they’ll not ‘volunteer’ anything. It includes the 19 Dems who voted with Jello Jay on FISA, and this question:

    Here’s a list I’d be curious about: Senators Baucus, Bayh, Carper, Casey, Conrad, Inouye, Johnson, Kohl, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, McCaskill, Mikulski, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Webb and Whitehouse. Have any of those files been breached?

    Why? Well, maybe I’ve taken things a little bit far afield here, but let me just take the opportunity to ask Senator Rockefeller and his 19 Democratic Senate colleagues who voted for his FISA abomination this: Still think it’s safe to trust this “administration” with properly guarding sensitive, private information? Still think everything’s gonna be just fine with immunizing the private contractors who are supposed to be partners with the government in handling this stuff responsibly?

  36. Hmmm says:

    EPU’d, but for what it’s worth — As to whether the passport files would include the details of the person’s actual international air travel or not, for years now US Passport Control has consistently scanned the barcode on my blue cover US Passport, every time I’ve re-entered the country. It would stand to reason that that info goes, inter alia, into my passport file at State. I don’t know whether the same applies for black-cover or red-cover US Passports or not. The US does not scan passenger passports upon departure to foreign countries, though airlines are required to verify that every passenger is carrying a valid passport. I suppose it’s possible airline check-in personnel could be scanning the barcodes at the time they inspect the passports, and then the airline computers transmit the scanned data on to (again inter alia) State; however I don’t recall ever actually noticing that the airline personnel were scanning the passport barcode.

  37. spoonful says:

    There has been speculation that Rove is advising Clinton – witness the ass licking they were giving each other on Fox the night she won Ohio/TX primaries. Rove’s motive here, after all, is that she would be less likely than Obama to put the monkeys who have been running the show the last 7 years in cages if she is president.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Rove advising Clinton would be utterly self-destructive. Both Clintons know that her candidacy would be toast; half the Democrats would stay home on voting day. Neither are that stupid or politically blind.

      Rove, on the other hand, has plenty of reason – and well-heeled backers willing to pay him – to throw monkey wrenches into any Democratic campaign. He is a master at implying false facts while staying within a nanometer of lying or perjury. He is adept and experienced at making it appear to be working for one party while really working for another; it’s a technique he used earlier in his career than almost any other.

      Rove’s object could be to muck up the Dems’ win this November, or its size, or their ability to to implement campaign promises, or, indeed, to stop or change any GOP “accomplishments”.

  38. watercarrier4diogenes says:

    Glennzilla updated his piece on the pro-war clique that is now trying to wipe the egg off their face with anyone’s napkin that might be handy, as long as it’s not their own. He linked to Balloon-Juice where John Cole posted a real honest-to-ghod mea culpa today. Money quote from Mr. Cole:

    If you took all the wrongness I generated, put it together and compacted it and processed it, there would be enough concentrated stupid to fuel three hundred years of Weekly Standard journals.

  39. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Whether this invasion of privacy – and the mismanagement that allowed it and apparently failed to recognize its scope – was Oppo research gone Watergate Plumbers, or curiosity that killed the cat, the universe of potential victims is unlikely to be limited to three presidential candidates.

    Congress should focus on that, as well as the wrong done to three sitting Senators.

  40. Sara says:

    When you renew a passport, all the visa and entry-exit data in the old passport is transferred to your records. Any and all inquiry you might have made at an American Embassy while abroad would also be recorded by the embassy. During the Cold War there were agreements for exchange of information between the US and Western European nations, thus if you followed the law, and registered with the police when you changed residence while an Exchange Student, yep, the American Embassy got a form with your new address, and it went into your records. American Express, which was frequently used as a mail drop and currency exchange by students and travelers also had such a relationship with the local American Embassy.

    I’ve known about this since the early 60’s when a friend was a Junior Foreign Service Officer, and spent part of her days supervising the collection and sending off to DC the data collected in Denmark. I suppose they even have a record of the fact that I left my good fountain pen behind at the American Embassy in Moscow, and had to call and go back and collect it.

  41. Jkat says:

    the obvious impetus for the mc cain breaches is imo .. the flap about his citizenship .. there were those claiming he wasn’t natural born because he was born in panama .. it was a silly righter-than-right wing issue .. but it was out there … as a curiousity trap ..

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