What the Dickens Is Going On at the State Department?

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The passport file of any American could be exposed, but there have been only a few breaches of the Passport Office’s security system, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday.

Those few incidents were likely “imprudent curiosity,” he said.

Original DVD cover.
(Sean looks better with a hat, doesn’t he?)

The issue of exposed passport files came to light during the past two days as the State Department revealed the files of the three presidential contenders, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, had been accessed without authorization.

A State Department source said passport files contain scanned images of passport applications, birth date and basic biographical information, records of passport renewal and possibly citizenship information.

March 21 (Bloomberg) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she personally apologized to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for a security breach in which three contractors looked at his passport information.


The State Department has fired two of the contract employees and disciplined the third after senior managers discovered the workers at three locations looked at Obama’s personal data on Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and March 14, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday.

The department’s inspector general will be asked to conduct a review and internal lawyers are looking into whether any laws were broken, Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of state for management, said yesterday. The State Department is also investigating whether the individuals did anything with the information, he said.


McCormack and Kennedy said they were looking into what information was accessed. The workers read Obama’s passport application among other records, the Washington Times, which reported the story earlier, said.


Kennedy is going to Obama’s office today to continue to review the matter.

From Time:

The State Department is under fire for the revelation that employees or contractors for the agency were snooping through the passport records of three presidential candidates, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, at different points over the last year. But at the same time agency workers were breaching the files of those high-profile individuals, it turns out that the Bush Administration was in the process of greatly expanding the number of agencies and foreign governments that have routine access to that same database. Called Passport Records, the sensitive computer system includes all documents, photographs and information attached to passport applications and renewals.

Under new guidelines printed in the federal registry on January 9, the same day Obama’s records were first breached, the Bureau of Consular Affairs allows the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counter-Terrorism Center, “foreign governments, and entities such as Interpol” to link into the same system.


The expanded access does not appear to be related to the breaches of the candidates’ records. But privacy experts are concerned nonetheless, because the move is part of a trend in which more and more of citizens’ personal information is being put at the fingertips of a growing number of government employees.


What kind of personal information do these Passport Records actually contain? […] That [passport] application has your address, Social Security number, phone number, the name and number of your emergency contact and your photograph. The records also have information on any attempts to change the status of your citizenship, which is what employees in the elder Bush Administration were suspected of looking for in Bill Clinton’s records in 1992.

Like Poppy, like son? The Chimpy apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

A search by name or passport number can also dredge up other items that have been attached to the file, such as court orders, arrest warrants, financial reports and even medical reports, according to the public State Department records.

Senior managers at the State Department are rightly embarrassed they weren’t notified about the high-profile breaches before a reporter’s inquiry.


We don’t know yet if the individuals who engaged in the candidates’ browsing passed the information on to someone else. But changes at the State Department have certainly made it easier to access those records, not harder.

What companies were involved?

March 22 (Bloomberg)…
The two companies that gained unauthorized access to Obama’s passport files were Stanley Inc. and Analysis Corp., the State Department said in an e-mailed statement.

Stanley is a 3,500-person Arlington, Virginia-based company that this week won a $570 million State Department contract to continue passport services. Both the employees who accessed Obama’s information in separate incidents were terminated the day the breach occurred, Stanley said yesterday in a statement.

Employment candidates for Stanley and its subcontractors submit to security and government-sponsored background checks and are trained in the Privacy Act, Stanley said. They also sign a statement that includes acknowledgement that they are subject to immediate dismissal, civil charges and criminal prosecution for knowingly obtaining access to information under false pretenses, the company said in the statement.

McLean, Virginia-based Analysis Corp., known as TAC, said late yesterday that the “individual’s actions were taken without the knowledge or direction of anyone at TAC and are wholly inconsistent with our professional and ethical standards.”


TAC President and Chief Executive Officer John O. Brennan is an informal foreign policy adviser to Obama’s campaign. Jim Flynn, a spokesman for the company, didn’t immediately return a call today seeking comment on Brennan’s role in the campaign.

Brennan spent 25 years as an intelligence officer, including in the Central Intelligence Agency and as interim director of the multi-agency National Counterterrorism Center. TAC said in January 2006 that he’d been awarded the National Security Medal by then-Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden, who is now head of the CIA.

And what is our esteemed Attorney General doing about the matter? (Also from Bloomberg):

Attorney General Michael Mukasey, speaking to reporters in Washington, said the Justice Department will likely wait for a referral from the State Department before looking into the matter.

“When, as and if we have a basis for an investigation” into the breach “we would conduct one,” Mukasey said.

Kids, let’s not hold our breath. Condi should be furious and itching to get to the bottom of this, but, instead of steamed Rice, I get the feeling we’ll get another serving of reheated….


Filed under 2008 election, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Chimpy, CIA, Condoleezza Rice, FBI, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security, humor, John McCain, Justice Department, Michael Hayden, Michael Mukasey, movies, parody, politics, Scandals, snark, State Department, Wordpress Political Blogs

12 responses to “What the Dickens Is Going On at the State Department?

  1. Friend of the court

    LOL!! Love the RICE-BA-LONEY. Looks like the State Department, and it’s contractors, employ many Irish guys. Not that there is anything wrong with that. My grandma was half Irish and you couldn’t get a secret out of her with a crow bar.

  2. nonnie9999

    i sincerely hope that you were using a metaphor and that you never once tried to get a secret out of grandma with a crowbar! 😉

  3. Friend of the court

    Absolutely, metaphoricaly. Grandma was a tuff old bird and would have kicked my butt. She was a keeper of secrets, though. I loved to tell her stuff, because you could be confidant that it would go no further and she had good advise. For example, I stayed with her for about six months, when she had a stroke and we would have lime sherbert and cookies for dinner and not a wiff of it ever got back to my mom. I can tell, now, because they are both gone, so nobody gets ratted on.

  4. nonnie9999

    your grandma sounds like someone i would have liked to have known. lime sherbert and cookies sounds like a wonderful memory. 🙂
    my mom, fast helen, always says that if she wanted to tell someone a secret and have it remain secret, she would tell me. she told me something, and i never said a word about it for 18 years. then i found out that she never meant it to be a secret when she told me, but she was quite impressed that i never told, even when my sister and my aunt (who wasn’t really my aunt, but a close family friend) tried to drag it out of me. they had to ask her about it, and that’s when i found out it was never a secret in the first place.

  5. nightowl724

    No worries, nonnie. “Attempting to get a secret out of one’s Irish grammie with a crowbar” is NOT torture and is a perfectly acceptable method of interrogation under the Bush Administration.

    The Dicken poster is brilliant and witty. (Yes, the hat is very becoming on Sean.) But, the box mix is an absolute RIOT! I especially enjoyed the “Enrich it with all the herbs you want” line.

    May I offer a jingle?

    Rice-Ba-Loni, the State Department treat.
    Rice-Ba-Loni, face saver with deceit.
    Her plan? No foiling Condaleez!
    Face saver, she is sure to please.
    Rice-Ba-Loni, the State Department treat.

    And, a slogan?

    Just Obey and Simper

    Hear the original:

  6. Friend of the court

    Darn it, now I want some Rice-a-Ronie. If you have some bits of left over chicken and chopped celery to mix in, it’s not all that bad.
    I’m not surprised that you are a good secret keeper, nonnie. Sagitarians may, blurt out the truth at the wrong moment, but they are good secret keepers. 😉

  7. nonnie9999

    d’oh! i meant to write a little rice-ba-loni ditty, and i forgot. now i don’t have to. good work, nightowl! 😀

    when i first lived on my own, i was broke and existed on rice-a-roni and pepperidge farm frozen cakes (when they were on sale). i always got the beef-flavored rice-a-roni and would put ketchup on half of it. i would swear to myself that it tasted just like hamburger that way.

  8. when does the musical come out?

    can you just see Condi breaking into song

  9. nonnie9999

    hey dcAp! 😀
    i would rather see her break out in a sweat!

  10. nightowl724

    dcap, Condi can bang out this little ditty on the piano while she sings!

    nonnie, I don’t think Condi is capable of sweating…

  11. nonnie9999

    while the others in the maladministration does a song and dance behind her. of course, the song is out of tune, and they are completely out of step with everyone else.

  12. nightowl724

    That sounds like a great idea for a TV show! We can call it American Grandstand