2 Fired in Passport Case With Va. Firm

Associated Press Modified: March 21, 2008 at 12:18 pm •  Published: March 21, 2008
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Associated Press has learned that the two contractors fired for snooping into Barack Obama's passport records worked for a Virginia-based company called Stanley Inc.

Earlier this week, the 3,500-person company won a five-year, $570-million contract to support passport services at the State Department.

The company is referring all questions to the State Department. An agency official confirmed that the two contractors had been employed at Stanley. The official requested anonymity because the information had not been publicly released.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) - 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.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the violations of McCain and Clinton's passport files were not discovered until Friday, after officials were made aware of the unauthorized access of Obama's records and a separate search was conducted.

The incidents raise questions as to whether the information was accessed for political purposes and why two contractors involved in the Obama search were dismissed before investigators had a chance to interview them. It recalled an incident in 1992, when a Republican political appointee at the State Department was demoted over a search of presidential candidate Bill Clinton's passport records. At the time, Clinton was challenging President George H.W. Bush.

McCormack said one of the individuals who accessed Obama's files also reviewed McCain's file earlier this year. This contract employee has been reprimanded, but not fired. The individual no longer has access to passport records, he said.

"I can assure you that person's going to be at the top of the list of the inspector general when they talk to people, and we are currently reviewing our (disciplinary) options with respect to that person," McCormack said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with all three candidates on Friday and expressed her regrets. In the meantime, State Department officials headed to Capitol Hill to brief the candidates' staffs.

After speaking with Obama, Rice told reporters: "I told him that I was sorry, and I told him that I myself would be very disturbed."

Obama said Congress should be part of any investigation.

"When you have not just one but a series of attempts to tap into peoples' personal records, that's a problem not just for me but for how our government functions," Obama told reporters in Portland, Ore. "I expect a full and thorough investigation. It should be done in conjunction with those congressional committees that have oversight so it's not simply an internal matter."

The State Department said the Justice Department would be monitoring the probe in case it needs to get involved.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the case has not yet been referred to the Justice Department for investigation, and indicated prosecutors likely would wait until the State Department's inspector general concludes its inquiry. But Mukasey did not rule out the possibility of the Justice Department taking an independent look at the passport breach.

"Have they asked us to become involved - no," Mukasey told reporters during a Friday briefing. "When, as, and if we have a basis for an investigation, including a reference - that is, one basis would be a reference - we could conduct one."


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