March 25th, 2008
04:21 PM ET
10 years ago

Justice and State Departments join forces on passport probe

 The security of the passport files of the top presidential candidates was breached, the State Department said.

The security of the passport files of the top presidential candidates was breached, the State Department said.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Justice Department Tuesday disclosed its prosecutors are now assisting the State Department Inspector General in the investigation into the breaching of passport files of the three leading presidential candidates by State Department contractors.

The involvement of Justice Department lawyers appears to represent a shift in the agency's position since last Friday when Attorney General Michael Mukasey indicated no plan to join the investigation until the State Department I.G. looked into the matter, and requested assistance.

Mukasey added Friday that in the event someone walked into the Justice Department "with a box full of evidence", that could change his stance.

"After the Attorney General's remarks on Friday, Justice Department prosecutors met with officials from the State Department Inspector General's office on this matter, and are coordinating with the Office of Inspector General on its investigative efforts," said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr. "Due to the ongoing nature of these efforts, the Department will have no further comment at this time," Carr said.

A knowledgeable official who asked not to be identified because of the pending probe said the State Department had initiated the contact and follow-up meeting with Justice prosecutors some time after Mukasey spoke. The official said the guidance requested by State officials does not constitute what could be described as a "joint investigation" between the two Executive Departments.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack had said Monday that the Justice Department had an "open invitation to be involved in the process" and that it would be "up to the Department of Justice as to what sort of involvement they will have."

Several members of Congress have urged the Justice Department launch a criminal investigation to determine whether charges should be brought.

The latest such call came Tuesday from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and the panel's ranking Republican Arlen Specter, R-Penn.

"The Justice Department should not wait to be handed 'a box full of evidence' as you said at your recent briefing, before determining whether Federal laws were broken," Leahy and Specter said in a joint letter to Mukasey. "We both strongly believe that our government has a duty to protect the private information of its citizens," the Senators said.

The State Department has confirmed that contract personnel had peered into Sen. Barack Obama's file on three separate occasions, and had made unauthorized entry once each into the passport files of Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain.

–CNN's Terry Frieden and Elise Labott

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. catmom

    It would be nice if the justice department spent their time investigating The Bush/Cheney administration, Alberto Gonzales, Valarie Plame and all of the other corupt things that have occurred during the past 7 years.

    March 25, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. Sonia CA

    Well the media should be very happy by now......... their comments and behavior sure help us to be very divided, SHAME ON YOU!!!
    That's the reason why I now ENJOY dancing with the stars, the bachelor, two and a half, american idol, THEY ARE WORTH TO WATCH!
    Life is to short to be fighting over STUPID ISSUES like "blue dress", Chelsea's question.... In 1996 Sen. Clinton said....... GROW UP AMERICANS!

    March 25, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  3. CJ

    CNN moderators have a funny way of filtering messages. Unless you're a rabid, incoherent partisan, it doesn't seem as if you have much hope of having your message posted.

    March 25, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  4. Universal Love

    WOW!!! I can believe that CNN is so quick to brush Clinton's Lie Incident under the rug and rush on to another topic, as if this defamation on her character on is not worthy of discussion. If it was Obama, they would be harping on and on about how "UNTRUSTWORTHY" this is making him and how this could cause him to start losing the uncommitted independent voters.

    I am TIRED of watching CNN commentaries be so BIAS towards Mrs. Clinton , sugar-coating everything she does but sensationalizing Obama's EVERY minor imperfections.


    You guys (at CNN) are suppose to be non-bias and report equally; not, one on hand, skew the image of one candidate with constant negative redirect from every angle but, in the other hand, skirting-around and deflecting the negative issues concerning the other candidate. IS SHE PAYING YOU GUY, WHAT'S GOING ON?


    March 25, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  5. Steve Ca, USA

    An American in Canada are you still hiding fronm the sixty's draft? Could be you are trying to get Hillary the CIB from the Army for her evading sniper fire in Bosnia... HA HA
    I also wonder if Chelsea is actually Bills since they can't stay out of other peoples beds.

    March 25, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. The truth hurts

    To other HRC supporters or white American's, please explain to me what did Rev Wright say that was racist, degrading or not factual. I have a hard time understanding what did he say that was so bad. I know when the republicans claimed unpatriotic to anybody that had a different opinion then them, most americans were screaming obscene things about the republicans. I am not trying to diminsh anyone's feelings, I just want to know what did he say that was wrong and why. Please post his quote and tell me why you found it offensive.

    March 25, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. Matt Svabik

    I would most definitely have to agree with Laughing at US. The Democratic party has been fighting so much over who is the better candidate, Obama this Hillary that. The Democratic party needs to come together and just set aside its differences and forget all the bs in the media, decide on its “best candidate” and move on. I don’t want another 4 years that Bush gave us. Our economy is so bad right now. Laughing at us, do you suppose McCain would bring us another 4 years of “bush”??

    March 25, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. Grif

    Integrity has nothing to do with Religion...

    If you never go to any kind/p-lace of worship..

    Has nothing to do with, who you are !!! So why worry Hillary, how they?

    Will try to twist your Credentials... Same goes for John McCain....

    Still there is/are answers to find.. A Bias has nothing to do with it either...

    Democracy! Is Democracy ... We all have rights, and we all have opinions.

    Closing the Book!!! It won't go away... Credentials/Duty/ Honour...


    March 25, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. David


    Not to change the subject but me as many others would like to find out more about the candidates drug use in the past. Did Hilary smoke dope with Bill. What drugs did Obama use in his earlier years- when did he last do the drugs? This is about using good judgment and we need to flush this out before the General Election. Please report on this matter.


    March 25, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. Enrique--- Hispanic Iraqi Freedom Veteran 2003


    Hillary will not drop out of the race.

    She will not catch Sen. Obama in delegates, states, or votes.

    The Democratic Party will come to its senses. They won't try to steal it from Sen. Obama.

    Nobody knows what bill is talking about.

    Nobody knows what the clintons are trying to do. Perhaps shatter the Democratic Party into a million pieces.


    March 25, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. Juan Grain

    Hillary is lookin real tired here lately, she must be gettin up at 3 am waitn on that phone call. and the call eventually comes and she whispers hello, who is it? it's Barack i just want you to know that even though you lost, i still want to be your friend!

    March 25, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. Anti-Clinton

    What does this have to do with Clinton lying? Or Obama lying? Or McCain lying. Nor is this about Obama getting what he wants? You bloggers are unbelievable and I dare say worse than the media in your constant sensationlization. Talk about melodrama! This story is about unauthorized persons looking at sensitive and private information. The incidents should be investigated and any if any laws were broken, the offenders should be prosecuted to fullest.

    March 25, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. v.ananthan

    DON^T WORRY !!!!!!!

    Obama will be giving a speech about this in the near future to fix this......................

    March 25, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. Willie

    Truly, one cannot choose ones family, but one can choose his pastor....sound judgment is needed in the latter......

    March 25, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  15. Taylor

    I wonder if the concentration on Obama's bad judgement in this case will hurt him.

    March 25, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  16. The truth hurts

    Hillary is a liar.

    March 25, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  17. Ben

    Truly, one cannot choose ones family, but one can choose his pastor....sound judgment is needed in the latter......

    March 25, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  18. simon

    I agree that the one who is likely to lose by August would be Obama cause there is just something about the guy I don't trust. Just ask around. How much do we know about him, really? Of all the people I know who voted him, none of them could give me a good reason why they support him. One told me because he is likable. Another told me she voted for him cause her friends voted for him. One even told me he voted for him because of a music video he saw on youtube!! I think we all know by now that there is so much inspirational speeches can do. We need solutions and a solid plan and Hillary is the one who CAN and WILL deliver.

    March 25, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  19. Bev

    Is there any truth to what I have heard that the snoop was once a member of Hillary Clinton's staff. If the rumour is true then don't expect either the state department or the justice department to do a thorough investigation.

    March 25, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. M&M (Nevada)

    I am a Hispanic and I take offence to the remarks made by the clinton camp towards Gov. Bill Richardson. Hilary has already lost 91% of the African American vote and now she is allowing James Carvel to push away the Hispanic's vote. He should retract his statements and maybe, just maybe, Ms. Clinton will save some of those voters.

    March 25, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  21. Oh Give Me A BREAK

    For those of you who don't know where the shift key is, please ask someone near you out there at the trailer park. Typing in all caps just makes you look stupid.

    For those making a big deal of this (our government) give me a break. it was three contractors snooping, probably out of curiosity. One has been fired, maybe two. Fire the rest, and get on with life.

    March 25, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  22. The truth hurts

    It is amazing to me that people continue to say they do not understand how could Obama sit there for 20 years and listen to hate. My question is do you not live in America where our school system teaches us hatred towards others that are not American. What's the climate in America. America has preached hate about blacks for how many years now, how about gays, how about Chinese, Russia, North Korean's, Iranians, middle eastern life,... should I go on. I don't see anybody leaving...

    Let me see a bunch of middle eastern men committed a terroristic act and now American's are on a full blown middle eastern hate march. Two white guys blow up a building in Oklahoma and nobody hates white men...go figure

    March 25, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  23. obama i weak

    why is obama in the virgin islands taking a break from the campaign? has it been to much for him to handle? give me a break – how will he be president if he has to run away when things get tough?

    seems that hillary can handle the stress better

    March 25, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  24. Bev

    I would be interested in knowing who the snoops were and if they had any connection to any of the candidates and were they able to alter any of the information on the files or just view it. After Peter Paul's claims I would be very leary and watching my back if I were Obama or McCain.

    March 25, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  25. Jdona

    Everyone wants to hang Clinton on this Bosnia trip. I don't know what she meant to say or not, I do know that the account of the Bosnia trip is in her book and that it is a factual account there, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt on that. It was too easy to disprove otherwise, especially given that it was in the book Living History. Both candidates have misspoken. Obama was wrong on the Selma incident, he claimed he was a law professor at the University of Chicago, when he was not, the book he wrote Dreams from my Father was not a factual account although most people think it is. The characters in the book were not real people, they were in his words "composite characters" and the conversations were not real, they were "approximations". So if you really want to open up on Hillary Clinton for the Bosnia flak, go ahead. We have enough ammunition on Barack Obama to do the same thing.

    March 25, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
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