WASHINGTON (CNN) – The CEO of a company whose employee is accused of improperly accessing the passport files of presidential candidates is a consultant to the Obama campaign, a source familiar with the firm said Saturday.
John Brennan, president of The Analysis Corporation (TAC), advises the Illinois Democrat on foreign policy and intelligence issues, the source said.
Brennan briefed the media on behalf of the campaign earlier this month. The executive is a former senior CIA official and former interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He contributed $2,300 to the Obama campaign in January.
When asked about the contribution, a State Department official told CNN's Zain Verjee, "We ethically awarded contacts. Political affiliation is not one of the factors that we check."
The department does not check the "personal activities of that nature of the officers of the corporation." Contracts are "competitively awarded," the official added.
On Friday, the department revealed that Obama's passport file was improperly accessed three times in 2008, and the passport files of the two other major presidential candidates - Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain - had also been breached.
Three contractors are accused in the wrongdoings, including the one who works for TAC, who was disciplined. That contractor accessed McCain's file in addition to Obama's. None of the contractors was identified.
The other two contractors, who worked for Stanley Inc., were fired. Stanley has had contracts with the department since 1992, and was recently awarded a $570 million contract to continue providing support for passport processing. Its CEO, Philip Nolan, contributed $1,000 to the Clinton campaign.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Two days after Barack Obama called for the administration and Congress to investigate the breach of the presidential candidates’ passport data, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s senior Republican said he agreed with the Illinois senator.
“There are federal criminal statutes involved. I think that ought to be a very intense investigation. I think privacy is a very fundamental matter,” Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter told Gloria Borger on CNN’s Late Edition Sunday. "I think it ought to be something for Attorney General Mukasey, and I think that it may well be something for the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I’m the ranking member."
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon agreed with Specter, adding that the Government Accountability Office had been warning about this problem for a decade, and that the White House deserved a share of the blame for fostering a “a culture of disregard for privacy.”
Thursday night, the State Department confirmed that Obama’s passport file had been improperly accessed three times this year. On Friday, they revealed that the passport files of the rest of the presidential field – Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain – had been similarly breached.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday publicly apologized for the actions of the three contract employees, and said the State Department inspector general would investigate the matter. State Department officials also briefed Senate staffers for the three candidates and for Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joseph Biden of Delaware.
–CNN's Jessica Rummel
(CNN) - The revelation of controversial comments made by the longtime pastor of Sen. Barack Obama, and the equally hot aftermath from the general public that led to the junior senator from Illinois delivering a strong speech/sermon on race in America, has opened anew the explosive connection between three of the most volatile issues today.
If a poll were taken, there is no doubt that race, faith and politics would be the most emotional, passionate and divisive topics. Why? Because all three are so deeply personal. What one person sees as a negative, another would determine as a strength.
Republicans strongly believe that they are superior and right on the direction of the nation compared to Democrats. African Americans are protective of their culture and ways of living, while whites routinely ask why we can't just be one nation with no labels. Catholics contend they are the one and only true church, while Baptists will say that being dipped in the water after making a personal decision to give your life to Christ is the true way of salvation for the believer.
As a Christian, I've seen church members go toe-to-toe when discussing either one of these issues, and can remember some late night debates in college that would have made the toes of Lincoln and Douglas curl.
So why did the comments of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright strike such a core, and how did it lead to Obama to give a speech on race? That was the question posed to me in a number of e-mails, and like Obama stated in his speech, it's really America's lack of understanding - no, refusal to accept - how the different races live and act.
–CNN Contributor Roland Martin