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Secretary of State Apologizes to Obama for Passport File Breach


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she has apologized to Senator Barack Obama after government contract workers accessed his passport file without authorization.

In Washington Friday, Rice said officials are very concerned about the incident and there will be a full investigation through the inspector general. She said the State Department is in contact with the senator's office and will provide briefings regarding the matter.

The State Department says it dismissed two contract workers and disciplined a third for the unauthorized views of the Democratic Party presidential hopeful's passport files.

A spokesman for Obama's campaign, Bill Burton, described the incident as an "outrageous breach of security and privacy."

An automatic system that records any attempt to access the files of prominent Americans reported three intrusions of Obama's file this year, beginning on January 9. Officials say action was taken against the workers when they could not explain their actions.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says there is no indication that there was any political motivation behind the incidents.

The State Department did not identify the workers or their office.

McCormack says government officials disclosed the computer breach to the Obama campaign Thursday.

Besides the privacy issues involved, Obama's campaign spokesman says the government should disclose why it took so long for it to reveal the breach. McCormack said Obama's confidential files were accessed on January 9, February 21, and March 14.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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