Rice to Obama: Sorry for passport breach

ByABC News
March 21, 2008, 12:08 PM

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice apologized to Sen. Barack Obama Friday for an incident in which State Department contractors unneccessarily reviewed his passport file.

Saying there would be "a full investigation," Rice told reporters she called Obama and told him "I was sorry and that I myself would be very disturbed if I learned somebody had looked into my passport file and therefore I will stay on top of it."

The State Department earlier Friday said officials at the Justice Department were monitoring the State Department's internal investigation into whether the three contract workers had a political motive for looking at the Democratic presidential candidate's passport file.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday that the State Department inspector general's office is looking into the matter, but Justice Department officials had been notified in case they need to get involved.

Two of the contract employees were fired for the security breach and a third was disciplined but is still working, the States Department said.

"We are in contact with the senator's office and indeed will provide briefings concerning this incident," Rice said Friday. "But none of us wants to have a circumstance in which any American's passport file is looked at in an unauthorized way."

Rice said the breach should have been known to senior management and "it was not to my knowledge."

Rice said "we also want to take every step that we can to make sure that this kind of thing doesn't happen again."

Senior management at the State Department learned that the three workers at three locations accessed Obama's information on Jan. 9, Feb. 21, and March 14, McCormack told reporters in a conference call Thursday evening.

Obama's campaign Thursday night called the breach of the Illinois senator's information "outrageous."

"We demand to know who looked at Senator Obama's passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach," campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement sent to reporters.