Obama’s top terrorism and intelligence adviser, John O. Brennan, heads a firm that was cited in March for breaching sensitive files in the State Department’s passport office, according to a State Department Inspector General’s report released this past July.
The security breach, first reported by the Washington Times and later confirmed by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, involved a contract employee of Brennan’s firm, The Analysis Corp., which has earned millions of dollars providing intelligence-related consulting services to federal agencies and private companies.
During a State Department briefing on March 21, 2008, McCormack confirmed that the contractor had accessed the passport files of presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and John McCain, and that the inspector general had launched an investigation.
Sources who tracked the investigation tell Newsmax that the main target of the breach was the Obama passport file, and that the contractor accessed the file in order to “cauterize” the records of potentially embarrassing information.
“They looked at the McCain and Clinton files as well to create confusion,” one knowledgeable source told Newsmax. “But this was basically an attempt to cauterize the Obama file.”
At the time of the breach, Brennan was working as an unpaid adviser to the Obama campaign.
"This individual's actions were taken without the knowledge or direction of anyone at The Analysis Corp. and are wholly inconsistent with our professional and ethical standards," Brennan’s company said in a statement sent to reporters after the passport breach was made public.
The passport files include “personally identifiable information such as the applicant’s name, gender, social security number, date and place of birth, and passport number,” according to the inspector general report.
The files may contain additional information including “original copies of the associated documents,” the report added. Such documents include birth certificates, naturalization certificates, or oaths of allegiance for U.S.-born persons who adopted the citizenship of a foreign country as minors.
The Obama campaign acknowledged at its “Fight the Smears” Web site that Obama was a foreign national until the age of 18, by virtue of his father’s British then Kenyan citizenship.
“Since Sen. Obama has neither renounced his U.S. citizenship nor sworn an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically expired on Aug. 4,1982,” the Web site stated.
“Fight the Smears” attempted to debunk rumors that Obama was not a U.S. citizen by producing a 2007 computer-generated copy of his certification of live birth.
“The truth is, Barack Obama was born in the state of Hawaii in 1961, a native citizen of the United States of America,” the Web site states.
However, “native citizen” is a colloquialism, not a legal term. It is not the same as “natural-born citizen,” the requirement to be president set out in Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution.
Chief Justice John Roberts has scheduled a Supreme Court conference on Jan. 23 on Lightfoot v. Bowen, one of several cases alleging that Obama is not a “natural born” citizen because of his birthright British citizenship.
The State Department chalked up the passport file snooping discovered in March 2008 to “imprudent curiosity” by contract employees hired to help process passport applications.
Asked by reporters during a campaign stop in Portland, Ore., to comment on the breach, Obama said that attempts to “tap into people’s personal records” were “a problem not just for me but for how our government functions.
"I expect a full and thorough investigation. It should be done in conjunction with those congressional committees that have oversight so it's not simply an internal matter," he added.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice phoned Obama and personally apologized for the breach. “I told him that I myself would be very disturbed if I learned that somebody had looked into my passport file,” Rice told reporters. She phoned Clinton and McCain and offered similar apologies.
Following the breach, State Department managers met with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, whose committee has oversight over the Foreign Service and the passport office. Biden will be sworn in as Obama’s vice president on Jan. 20.
The State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a 104-page report on the breach last July. Although it is stamped “Sensitive but Unclassified,” the report was heavily redacted in the version released to the public, with page after page blacked out entirely.
The problems posed by the breach were so serious that the inspector general recommended that the State Department conduct “vulnerability and risk assessments of all passport systems” to identify security weaknesses and suggest “a timetable for implementing corrective actions.”
Acting Assistant secretary for administration William H. Moser sent a six-page reply concurring with the recommendation, all but one paragraph of which was blacked out because of the sensitivity of the information it contained.
Had Brennan been appointed CIA director, as rumored in the Obama campaign shortly after the election, senators also would have questioned him about an article he wrote in an obscure foreign policy magazine over the summer.
The article, entitled “The Conundrum of Iran: Strengthening Moderates without Acquiescing to Belligerence,” appeared in the July issue of "The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science."
Among other recommendations, it argued that the next U.S. administration should grant political legitimacy to the terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas, and should exercise “strategic patience” with Iran rather than engaging in “bellicose” rhetoric and coercive diplomacy.
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