Three State Dept. employees involved:
Two contract employees of the State Department were fired and a third person was disciplined for accessing passport records of Sen. Barack Obama "without a need to do so," State Department officials confirmed to NBC News.
The three people who had access to Obama's passport records were contract employees of the department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, NBC News has learned. The unauthorized activity concerning Obama's passport information occurred in January.
"A monitoring system was tripped when an employee accessed the records of a high-profile individual,” a department official told NBC News. "When the monitoring system is tripped, we immediately seek an explanation for the records access. If the explanation is not satisfactory, the supervisor is notified."
Explaining why the contractors had access to the files, the official said: "The State Department uses cleared contractors to design, build and maintain our systems and cleared contract employees provide support to government employees and several steps of passport processing including data entry, file searches, customer service and quality control.
"Each time an employee logs on, he or she acknowledges the records are protected by the privacy act and that they are only available on a need-to-know basis," the official added.
Sen. Obama’s presidential campaign responded sternly, calling for a thorough 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,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement released Thursday night. “Our governments duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes.
“This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation, and we demand to know who looked at Senator Obama’s passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach.”
Labels: barack obama, confidentiality, contractors, passport, State Department