March 27, 2008

DOJ, State Dept. Officials Discuss Passports Breach

The Justice Department is coordinating its response to the passports breach with the State Department's inspector general's office, officials announced today.

A Justice spokesman confirmed that prosecutors have met with State Department representatives at the inspector general's office to coordinate "investigative efforts."

Last week, Attorney General Michael Mukasey said he wasn't sure what violations may have occurred and suggested Main Justice attorneys would await the outcome of the State Department's internal investigation before launching their inquiry.

However, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) on Tuesday demanded Mukasey open a criminal investigation into the passport scandal in which State Department contractors allegedly accessed the passport files of all three presidential contenders: Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

"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," the senators wrote. "We both strongly believe that our government has a duty to protect the private information of its citizens. 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."

Asked if Mukasey had a change of mind, Carr — the Justice spokesman — said: "Due to the ongoing nature of these efforts, the department will have no further comment at this time."

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