The Waxman Takes Action in Obama-State Dept. Flap

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Three State Department contractors have been punished for improperly accessing Barack Obama’s passport and other files in what State is calling acts of “imprudent curiosity.” Congressman/bulldog Henry Waxman wants to make sure there isn’t something more sinister going on. He wants to know exactly who these contractors were working for. Here’s his letter to Secretary Rice:

Dear Madam Secretary:

Yesterday, Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, the Under Secretary of State for Management, confirmed that three contract employees working for two State Department contractors gained unauthorized access to the passport records of Senator Barack Obama. When Ambassador Kennedy was asked for the identities of the contract employees and the companies, however, he declined to provide them:

Question: Are you releasing the names of any of these three contractors or the companies for which they were contracting on behalf of the State Department?

Ambassador Kennedy: In a word, no.

I am writing to request that you provide the Oversight Committee by Monday with the identities of the companies involved in these breaches. I also believe this information should be made publicly available.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X.

Sincerely,

Henry A. Waxman, Chairman

Could this be part of “Blackwater’s World of Warcraft”? If anyone in Congress is going to find out, it’s Waxman. The State Department doesn’t seem interested in pushing this further, and the FBI and Justice Department have yet to get involved.

(If it’s not clear, we here at MoJo’s DC office think Henry Waxman is secretly a diminutive but powerful superhero. By day, Waxman ends corruption and graft through his work on the Oversight Committee. By night, he keeps the nation’s capital city safe from common criminals. He is Waxman. Let’s get dangerous.)

Update: Looks like Hillary Clinton and John McCain’s files were also improperly accessed.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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