Leahy, Specter Call for Probe in Passport Matter

Posted March 25, 2008 at 1:10pm

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) called on the Bush administration Tuesday to launch a formal probe into security breaches at the State Department that allowed unauthorized employees to view passport records of the three presidential contenders.

In a separate letter, Leahy and Specter also called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to quickly move their bill to protect people from identity theft. The committee approved the bill last May and would create controls on how, and by whom, personal data collected by the federal government could be accessed.

In a March 25 letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Leahy and Specter said they are “troubled” that Mukasey has not initiated an independent Justice Department probe of the incidents, which came to light last week when Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) campaign was informed his records had been accessed at least three times this year. It was subsequently disclosed that the records of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) have also been accessed improperly.

In their letter, the two lawmakers call for an immediate inquiry to determine if any federal laws have been violated.

“We ask that you take immediate action to look into this matter, and inform us what preliminary steps the Department is taking to determine whether these passport file breaches involved the violation of Federal laws, and to make sure that any evidence of possible violations by current or former contractors is being preserved,” they said in the letter.

— John Stanton