Friday, March 21, 2008


Two State Department contract employees were fired for sneaking a look at Barack Obama’s passport records.

Undersecretary of State Patrick F. Kennedy, in a hastily arranged conference call with reporters, said he asked the State Department inspector general to open an inquiry into the matter and acknowledged that it might need to be expanded.

He also said he would brief Obama, who is locked in a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, today on the matter.

Kennedy said that he did not know yet whether any laws were broken or whether the employees shared the information with others. He said that the incidents, which occurred at three offices, on Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and March 14, should have been “passed up the line” much sooner and that officials were seeking to determine why they had not been disclosed earlier.

As Josh Marshall notes, those days are the day after the New Hampshire primary, the day of the Democratic debate in Texas, and the day the story about Rev. Jeremiah Wright blew up. Coincidence? Perhaps, but the same thing happened to Bill Clinton in 1992 when he was running against the first President Bush.