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Bush Demands More Surveillance Powers as Presidential Candidates’ Travel Records Compromised

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On the heels of President Bush demanding that Congress give and/or restore broader presidential surveillance powers over private citizens, a new wrinkle in the story surfaced today. The U.S. State Department Inspector General’s office revealed that contractors connected with that agency had breached security protocols in order to obtain travel records of the three remaining presidential candidates.

The incidents were reported to the Bush administration only yesterday, despite the fact that news of some of the breaches was brought to the attention of officials several months ago. It also came to light that apparently no upper-level personnel within the State Department were notified of the breaches until Thursday, March 20.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s records were compromised in 2007, apparently during a training exercise. The trainee was supposed to enter a family member’s name, but instead he entered Hillary Clinton’s instead. Information was read concerning the senator’s private itineraries, along with other undisclosed and confidential details.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey balked at demands to look into the incidents and stated he had no plans to investigate the breaches unless the Inspector General asked for it officially. The passport files of Senator John McCain, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Senator Barack Obama had been accessed several times over a period of several months.

McCain, in Paris, was quoted as saying, “If anyone's privacy was breached, then they deserve an apology and a full investigation, and I believe that will take place."

The three who had accessed Obama’s records were said to be low-level employees who were “admonished” for their actions. Senator Obama’s files were accessed on January 9, February 21, and March 14, 2008.

After being apprised of the situation during a campaign stop in Portland, Oregon, Senator Barack Obama was quoted as saying, "One of the things that the American people count on in their interactions with any level of government is that if they have to disclose personal information, that it stay personal and stay private. And when you have not just one but a series of attempts to tap into people's personal records, that's a problem not just for me but for how our government is functioning.”

Senator Obama called for a full and thorough investigation by the Bush administration, along with full Congressional hearings into the incidents. Meanwhile Sean McCormack at the State Department revealed that two of the three contractors in question had been fired and disciplinary actions had been taken against a third.

As of Friday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared to feel that only an apology was warranted and announced that she’d already spoken to Obama and Clinton, and planned to contact McCain in Europe, saying she planned to stay on top of the situation. She later added cryptically that she’d be very disturbed if someone looked into her own passport files.

As of Thursday night, the White House declined to comment on this story.

It has been pointed out that the firings could have been done intentionally in order to make it hard for the State Department to get answers out of those involved without a lengthy process of grand juries and subpoenas.

This has not been the first time private records were compromised. In 1992 a Republican State Department employee was demoted for obtaining Bill Clinton’s passport files while the former president was running against  President George H. W. Bush.

About Jet Gardner

I like collecting books, music, movies, chess sets and friends
  • Jet in Columbus

    So I’m a lessor being because I make reference to Revelations?

  • Baronius

    Jet – you say that you’re not going to respond to JOM any more. I could understand that normally, but take a look at what he said in comment #45. He’s right on every point.

    There is no evidence that Cheney was involved in the leak of a Plame’s name. One of his employees was found guilty of falsely testifying about who the second person was who mentioned Plame to him. One of Powell’s employees was the leaker.

    Bill Clinton was an investor in a real estate scheme. You want to argue that he had a small role, ehh, I’ll give you that one.

    Trillions of dollars replacing worn out Humvees and stuff from Halliburton… well, that’s so inaccurate I can’t even argue against it. It doesn’t even make sense.

  • Jet in Columbus

    Oh give me a break, you won’t convince me that Chenney-considered to be one of the most powerful men ever to hold the office of Vice President didn’t know what his chief of staff was doing?

    …sorry no.

    As for Bill Clinton after being hounded by a hostile congress bound and determined to get him out of office, that very same congress found him not guilty of all charges stemming from the Watergate affair in a knock down drag out impeachment.

    I’ll change my mind about Chenney when you change your mind about Bill Clinton.

  • bliffle

    Bush is simply too incompetent and devious to be given more autocratic power, such as expanded snooping privilege.

    In August 2001, with the PBD in front of his nose saying “OBL determined to attack within USA”, he STILL couldn’t do the right thing. Instead he told off an advisor with a curse.

    Giving Bush more power is dangerous. Would you give a loaded pistol to a six year old?

  • Jet in Columbus

    I’d sooner give OJ Simpson a new pair of bloves and a knife as a birthday present.

  • JustOneMan

    Clinton was-considered to be one of the most HANDS ON men/women ever to live in the Whitehouse didn’t know how hundreds of FBI background files were improperly obtained by their administration with out knowing? …sorry no.

    In addition people should stop their attacks and hatred of Cheney just because he has a healthy and supportive relationship with his openly gay daughter! Jelousy and envey are sickening!


  • Clavos

    Halliburton doesn’t MAKE anything, much less Humvees (the military version), which are made by AM General (a successor to American Motors). AM General is owned by The Lenco Group, Inc.

    Halliburton provides a wide variety of logistical services to the military (and to civilian branches of the Federal Government, as well as to a number of foreign governments worldwide), including feeding the troops, construction work, oilfield services, etc.; it doesn’t manufacture anything.

  • Jet in Columbus

    It is suspected that from the moment Chenney tool office as Vice President, sweet heart deals become rolling in fast and furious.

    Haliburton has reported that the company was taking in about $1 billion a month from its operations in Iraq.

    Aside from the company having to reimburse the taxpayer for overcharges for meals alegedly that weren’t provided for nonexistant solders, Halliburton’s other problems include:

    Allegations of a kickback scheme by two former workers in Kuwait that prompted Halliburton to reimburse the Pentagon $6.3 million.

    Faulty cost estimates on the $2.7 billion contract to serve troops in Iraq, including failing to tell the Pentagon that KBR fired two subcontractors. KBR admitted those mistakes in a letter to the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

    A separate DCAA audit that accused KBR of overcharging by $61 million for gasoline delivered to serve the civilian market in Iraq last year. Halliburton has said the charges were proper.

  • Baronius

    See, Jet, I’d assume that the more powerful a VP is, the less time he spends worrying about the minutae of his staff’s actions. But either way, you and I are both making assumptions. We know who initiated the leak. We know that it’s been investigated – just like Clinton! – and there’ve never been any charges against Cheney.

  • JustOneMan

    stop their attacks and hatred of Cheney just because he has a healthy and supportive relationship with his openly gay daughter! Jelousy and envey are sickening!


  • Jet in Columbus

    Let’s just agree to disagree Mr. B. It’s on the same par as people that are convinced that OJ Simpson is quilty, even though he was found innocent.

    There a three things never to discuss with friends
    the great pumpkin.

    From here on in I may just check that little box that doesn’t accept comments on articles.

    I’ll say this though, at least I get civil arguments from you.

  • Jet in Columbus

    I don’t mind being wrong, that’s when we human’s learn the most.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    So I’m a lessor being because I make reference to Revelations?


    If you were a lessor being, you’d be making money of the lease the lessee was paying you. Or is it the other way round?

    And you really should get the name of your own books right. It’s embarrassing that I, an ignorant Jew, should have to tell you, someone who was considering being a Presbyterian pastor, that it is called the book of Revelation.

    And that was comment #144, not #142 in John Bambenek’s article referenced above.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Jet – you say that you’re not going to respond to JOM any more. I could understand that normally, but take a look at what he said in comment #45. He’s right on every point.

    Baronius – normally, I’d stay silent on this. But having endured hundreds of contemptuous attacks from JOM, it is about time that something he says that is correct is wrongly ignored. It would serve him right.

  • JustOneMan

    Ruvy….you of all people have no right to pass jusgement on me…..oh ye of little faith!

    JOM “Ruvy, have you heard the good news?”

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “Ruvy, have you heard the good news?”

    You’re leaving Blogcritics, JOM? That calls for a celebration! Maybe I should break out my 32 year old Hennesey’s Cognac and have a little sip.

    Nah, you ain’t worth that much. I think I’ll take a sip of water instead.


  • Jet in Columbus
  • bliffle

    Maybe congress SHOULD give GWB the surveillance powers he wants, that way he could keep a better watch on unscrupulous hedge fund operators who want to swindle american homeowners with fraudulent subprime loans and then hold the US economy hostage to wring more bailout funds from the Federal reserve. Then those miscreants could be nabbed right off the streets and sent to Gitmo without due process or habeas corpus.

    Sounds like a good idea to me.

    Especially if it could also apply to crooked government officials who give out sweetheart deals to their cronies.

  • Jet in Columbus

    I hear you bliff, problem is they’re all on his payroll