What's in a Passport File?

As MSNBC continues to hyperventilate over the breach of Barack Obama's "passport file", I'm wondering, what's in a passport file? They aren't saying his State Department file was breached, only his passport file. I thought a passport file is just a file for your applications. When I get visas to travel to other countries, I apply to their consulate, not the U.S.

Bill Clinton's passport files were breached in 1992 when some pages were found missing and the FBI launched an investigation. So what's in a passport file?

Typically such files, which are maintained for all people who receive passports, include materials like passport applications and supporting identity documents.


The following possible forms as being in your passport file:

Passport -- DS-0010 Birth Affidavit [ 205 Kb]
-- DS-0011 Application for U.S. Passport or Registrations (Fillable) [ 1001 Kb]
-- DS-0011 Application for U.S. Passport or Registrations (Non-Fillable) [ 743 Kb]
-- DS-0060 Affidavit Regarding Change of Name [ 222 Kb]
-- DS-0064 Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport [ 231 Kb]
-- DS-0071 Affidavit of Identifying Witness [ 215 Kb]
-- DS-0082 Application for U.S. Passport by Mail (Fillable) [ 717 Kb]
-- DS-0082 Application for U.S. Passport by Mail (Non-Fillable) [ 787 Kb]
-- DS-0086 Statement of Nonreceipt of Passport [ 236 Kb]
-- DS-1173 Passport File Request Form [ 224 Kb]
-- DS-3053 Statement of Consent: Issuance of a Passport to a Minor under Age 16 (Fillable) [ 157 Kb]
-- DS-3053 Statement of Consent: Issuance of a Passport to a Minor under Age 16 (Non-Fillable) [ 143 Kb]
-- DS-3077 Request for Entry into Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program [ 207 Kb]
-- DS-4085 Application for Additional Visa Pages (Fillable) [ 729 Kb]
-- DS-4085 Application for Additional Visa Pages (Non-Fillable) [ 614 Kb]
-- DS-5504 U.S. Passport Re-Application (Fillable) [ 955 Kb]
-- DS-5504 U.S. Passport Re-Application (Non-Fillable) [ 881

The Obama campaign is calling for an investigation, blasting the Bush Administration. The State Department says three low-level employees got curious and looked at them.

Update: CNN has a recap of the State Department's press conference tonight. His passport records were accessed three times by contract employees. They aren't linked. Two were fired, one was disciplined. It was probably curiosity. State Dept. heard about it today and told Obama's campaign. They will brief them tomorrow.

(live blogging Anderson Cooper 360):

CNN has Joe DiGenova who investigated the 1992 breach of Bill Clinton's passport files on. He says the information in the files is identifying information, social security numbers and names of family members. It's a problem that low level career service employees didn't report it higher up the chain until today. It's a violation of the privacy act. In Clinton's case, it appeared to be politically motivated. The State Dept. in Obama's case is attributing it to curiosity, but DiGenova says there should be an investigation.

Larry Johnson is on and I think correctly states the only thing in the file that isn't public knowledge is his social security number.

My view: It's a violation of law, but nothing that could jeopardize his safety. Any employee who works for a credit agency could peek at the social security number. It's a passport file, not a file with reports on Obama.

David Gergen basically also says the information in the file is no big deal.

Anything to distract from Michigan and Florida and disenfranchising over 2 million Democrats. Who alerted the media to this? The Obama campaign?

< Obama "Passport Information" Breached | Obama Speaks on Michigan >
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    I have my tinfoil hat on (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by magster on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 07:58:08 PM EST
    and am raring to go as soon as I hear a real motive for breaking into this file.

    This is one of the many times (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:01:36 PM EST
    when it's a good thing that this blog doesn't allow photos.

    Hey (none / 0) (#14)
    by magster on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:06:36 PM EST
    silver hats highlight my eyes.

    In 1992 (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:04:16 PM EST
    stories floated in the press about Bill Clinton's trip to Moscow back in the sixties, and it became part of the right-wing narrative about how Clinton was somehow a Communist spy or was aiding the enemy when we were at war (in Vietnam), and thus was a traitor. And people were talking about it and believing it. Maybe you weren't around or paying attention back then.

    So dipping into a passport file is not necessarily the simple, innocent thing you might believe. At least it wasn't for Bill Clinton. It was used to attack him. It's not paranoid to suspect that a Bush in the White House might not use the reins of power to attack a Democratic candidate for President.

    I suspect, if Jeralyn thought about it, she wouldn't want people poking into federal files on her that they shouldn't be poking into. Maybe you too, magster.


    GOP Operatives (none / 0) (#17)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:07:54 PM EST
    looking for the madrassa records, planning on leaving Hillary's fingerprints.

    My money is on Sandy Berger (none / 0) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:15:46 PM EST
    Heh (none / 0) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:17:09 PM EST
    I just want to say this (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by diplomatic on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 07:59:05 PM EST
    Drudge is definitely in the tank for the Obama campaign on the Democratic side.

    Good to remember: Bush/GOP in power (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by diplomatic on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:02:12 PM EST
    This breach, if it is even a real thing could have easily come from the Republicans who are looking to add to their file on Obama.  But of course MSNBC and the Obama supporters will naturally suspect Clinton before those honest and above-the-board folks running our current government.

    Look! Over there! (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by Angel on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:02:55 PM EST

    MSNBC is losing what ever little credibiity is lef (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by TalkRight on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:03:59 PM EST
    left... Keith is happy he does not have to cover the Kerry's comment and Obama's typical white comments.
    I have switched to FOX... can't believe that.. but it is better than

    CNN   Clinton Nitpicking Network
    MSNBC Mostly Sympathetic News for Barrack Channel
    ABC   All Barrack Channel
    NBC   New Barrack Channel

    ABC does some real reporting (none / 0) (#39)
    by diplomatic on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:28:50 PM EST
    they seem to be the most fair real network out there (I don't consider FOX a real news channel)

    I don't know.... (none / 0) (#63)
    by Maria Garcia on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 10:11:29 PM EST
    ...ABC did do the Hillary was in the White House when Bill met Monica story.

    I do think the unauthorized breach (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:10:18 PM EST
    is pretty bad from the State Dep't.

    That said, Presidential candidates yelling about transparency and demanding the release of confidential tax returns are not well positioned to make too big a deal of this.

    Moreover, as we know, Presidential candidates are expected to provide all sorts of private information - medical records etc. I am not sure how far Obama can carry this frankly.

    One day story really.

    One minute story on CNN and Fox.. (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by TalkRight on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:12:10 PM EST
    but for MSNBC do not know..

    Going in to it's 2nd hour (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by waldenpond on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:18:25 PM EST
    Going on hour three,lol! (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Dancing Bear on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:59:46 PM EST
    I just can't believe it.  The Enegizer Abrams.

    yes they are BTD, but i don't think most (none / 0) (#68)
    by cpinva on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 02:49:43 AM EST
    of those documents are available to the general public. i can appreciate sen. obama's irritation. how'd you like it if someone without a need to know went poking around in your official records, just for the heck of it?

    this is why the IRS goes ballistic when someone goes looking at some celebrity's return, who has no legitimate, job related reason to do so. any employee who does so should immediately be fired.


    This is huge (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by jb1125 on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:13:30 PM EST
    The passport file contains his SS#.  Someone could potentially look up his phone records, bank records...

    His tax retuirns? (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:15:59 PM EST
    haha (none / 0) (#37)
    by RalphB on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:21:57 PM EST
    That's an interesting idea. He hasn't (none / 0) (#58)
    by derridog on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:19:58 PM EST
    released his tax returns prior to 2006.

    Or simply steal his identify (none / 0) (#44)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:36:09 PM EST
    THAT would be HUGE.

    I hate all these contract employees (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Josey on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:17:49 PM EST
    involved in spying on us and other stuff.
    The government is outsourced to Corporate America.

    Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by ding7777 on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:30:40 PM EST
    "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."

    And Obama's demand for Hillary's private tax returns is for political puposes, go figure!

    ROFLMAF (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Boo Radly on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:43:58 PM EST
    Please forgive me but the breaking news and it is going on and on and it really seems a little over the top, a wee bit over blown.  My chuckle for the day - week.

    What is so darn secret in these files? (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by kenosharick on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:42:07 PM EST
    While it is a nasty thing to do and deserves punishment, MSNBC is playing it up as the most horrible thing since the Kennedy assasination. They are also trying to push blame onto Hillary, of course.

    Subject change my guess (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Salt on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:45:33 PM EST
    more victim implying its Clinton or McCain, I'm sure.

    Passport File (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Stellaaa on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:51:19 PM EST
    Ok, so why would the Bush people be interested in making a big deal of this?  Let me think.  Now the obama blogs are contriving Clinton connections.  

    I am outraged (none / 0) (#2)
    by Kathy on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 07:58:42 PM EST
    Clinton will stop at nothing.

    Aren't there senate records of his travels?

    I assume that's sarcasm (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:00:53 PM EST
    you might want to put a [/sarcasm] after those kind of ocmments. People reading through the comment threads might think you are serious and someone actually believes this.

    Who'd believe Kathy (5.00 / 0) (#12)
    by RalphB on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:05:27 PM EST
    about something like that?   :-)

    Thanks! (none / 0) (#15)
    by Kathy on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:07:02 PM EST
    Seemed so ridiculous as to be self-evident, but of course you are right that folks out there actually believe it.

    Still--question remains: Don't US Senators undergo background checks for their security clearance?  Surely this info would have been mined then as well.


    why would that be in their passport file? (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:17:13 PM EST
    I would think it would be in some other file.

    Howard Fineman suggested that (none / 0) (#41)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:30:42 PM EST
    there is more in those files than I would ever have imagined.  He went talked about Obama's mother's work in Asia as an aide worker and her work as a translator for the Embassy as being potentially a part of Obama's file - I haven't clue if he knows what he is talking about.

    Lawrence Eagleburger and Joe DiGenova are saying it is not such a bad thing - which for me is a tell-tale sign that it probably is a bad thing.  Also the Obama campaign's response - arguably the most animated I've ever seen this campaign in any situation - leads me to believe that there is something they are concerned about beyond principles of civil liberties.


    Absolutely (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:16:52 PM EST
    Eagleberger and DiGenova? No one consider them credible about anything. DiGenova is a Republican hack and disinformation specialist. Did anyone here agree with anything he or his wife said during the Scooter Libby thing? Eagleberger is another Republican lifetime achiever.

    It may just be curious employees. In that case, how did they access the information? I was trained a few years ago to take passport applications. It's not top secret stuff. Of course, at the time the Passport Agency was planning on putting chips that would later be scanned. I have no idea if that's been implemented, or how they work or how the employees were accessing his information. Because of that I'd feel better knowing what they were doing, how they did it, and why.


    The RFID in chips was finally implemented. (none / 0) (#61)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:41:57 PM EST
    Full saga at Ed Hasbrouck's The Practical Nomad

    Heh (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:31:50 PM EST
    Hoawrd Fineman is saying HIS MOTHER'S travel is in HIS passport file? what an idiot.

    It is (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:07:48 PM EST
    Why is the State Department (none / 0) (#8)
    by ding7777 on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:03:09 PM EST
    publizing this?

    Do they notify the person every time an unauthorized person looks at your passport?

    They did not notify the first 2 times (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:06:08 PM EST
    but only after the last time, last week, says MSNBC.  That does raise some rather large questions about the process under Secretary Rice, hmmmm?

    I'm sure she reported it to her husband right away (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:14:09 PM EST
    Nice (none / 0) (#32)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:18:12 PM EST
    bit of innuendo.



    just quoting Condi (none / 0) (#52)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:58:16 PM EST
    not enough traffic on your blog?

    They contacted Obama (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by waldenpond on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:19:49 PM EST
    He leaked it to MSNBC who is more than happy to talk about this than the other items that happened today.

    One theory I heard (none / 0) (#10)
    by magster on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:05:04 PM EST
    is that his childhood travels dating back to when he was in Indonesia, to troll for a stayover in a muslim country to add to that Obama is a muslim smear. ??

    How would they get that info out (none / 0) (#19)
    by Kathy on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:09:49 PM EST
    without revealing how they found it?

    And unless he went to Pakistan or Afghanistan, I doubt any visits would be deemed explosive.  And even those visits, taken in context, wouldn't be bad.


    The system that tips off the State Dept. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:05:07 PM EST
    that someone is looking into passport files actually was put in place, so says MSNBC, after -- as noted on previous thread -- this was done to Bill Clinton in 1992.  But I believe that time was by State Dept. employees themselves, not outsourced contract workers.

    The question will be, correctly, why this system was triggered three times, most recently last week, before the passport holder was informed -- or at least, in this case, his Secret Service contingent, it seems to me.

    And the question will be how high up was this known and not told.  Condi Rice?  Doubtful.  But if not, why not?  This is a U.S. Senator, after all.

    Outsourcing is merely a modern version of the (none / 0) (#22)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:11:08 PM EST
    spoils system. You are right in 1992 it was a little different. Seems more likely  would be political operatives for these 3 attempts.

    Heh.... (none / 0) (#18)
    by jor on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:09:03 PM EST
    ... I dunno what the big deal about passport files is, but obviously if the last time this occurred, there was a three year investigation into it -- there is something to it. Its not just all the Obama campaign blowing things out of proportion as much as everyone here would like to believe.

    But only MSNBC covering it for the past 1.1 hour.. (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by TalkRight on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:10:27 PM EST
    and looks like it will still go on for a while.. I hope they don't cover it till November.!

    The last time (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:11:20 PM EST
    higher level officials were implicated IIRC.

    And nothing happened at the end.

    Not sure this can go too far, especially from the transparency candidate.


    high level officials... (none / 0) (#34)
    by jor on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:19:05 PM EST
    the story just broke today. Seems like there will not be any high level officials as of now. But that doesn't mean 1 or 2 days of news coverage is out of line, for a story that had a 3 year investigation when a Clinton was the victim.

    btw, transparency isn't a pejorative. Most people actually think its good in terms of govt accountability and security. Even if you're candidate doesn't.


    Thje scandal is no high level officials (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:20:43 PM EST
    knew UNTIL TODAY!

    yes... (none / 0) (#38)
    by jor on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:28:09 PM EST
    .. thats the official story. No one got fired until today. And its probably imprudent curiosity. But its not out of the realm of possibility to believe a high level official in another campaign (McCain) orchestrated this. It doesn't have to be someone directly at State orchestrating.

    Not true (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:30:51 PM EST
    2 people were fired after the first 2 incidents.

    The third is likely to be fired as well.


    has anyone crosschecked the dates (none / 0) (#53)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:59:39 PM EST
    for what was happening in the news on or about those attempts?

    The transparency candidate (none / 0) (#48)
    by dannyinla on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:43:27 PM EST
    I like it.

    I'm not sure how much you want to keep saying that, since it implies that neither Hillary or McBush believe in transparency. But have at it.


    1992 to present (none / 0) (#45)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:40:18 PM EST
    It's not safe to assume the standard file's not been augmented since 1992. Even back then, the linked NYT story says "Typically such files... include..."

    We know the interlinking of databases has vastly increased in the interim.

    This blog would be up in arms (none / 0) (#46)
    by lilybart on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:40:20 PM EST
    if it were Hillary's records that were breached.

    But instead you do the wingers work of asking, well, what is in the file that he is trying to hide?

    I am pretty sure (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by Marvin42 on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:48:11 PM EST
    We would be making fun of any network that covered the story for 1.x hours, even if it was Hillary. I mean THE PASSPORT RECORDS. OH NO. That is my deepest darkest secrets. How dare they?

    But it is doubly funny after listening to the non stop Obama campaign insinuations that the Clintons are hiding something in their PRIVATE TAX FILINGS.


    This blog did not (none / 0) (#59)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:24:27 PM EST
    suggest Obama was trying to hide anything. Don't misrepresent.

    Is a breach somebody peeking into a folder? (none / 0) (#57)
    by Dancing Bear on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:19:08 PM EST
    Jeralyn, do you know how the files are kept?  In a folder? Electronically?  If electronically wouldn't it be password protected anyhow?

    We have HIPAA rules in Hospitals.  But files are viewed by many people daily. We don't call it a breach. But if an electronic file is viewed by an employee who's number doesn't match the "level" they are called in and questioned.That day. That's to keep co-workers from viewing personal medical histories.

    I am just trying to figure out how sensitive these documents are and at what time we will see photo copies on the Drudge Report,lol.

    From what I understand (none / 0) (#65)
    by clapclappointpoint on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:08:10 PM EST
    from GE, the files were electronic and accessed by contractors (maybe sys admins) with security clearances and the files themselves were protected by the Privacy Act.

    Also, interesting (via TPM) is that files were accessed immediately following the New Hampshire primary, on the day of the Texas Democratic debate, and the day the Wright controversy really hit.


    there's ben some event almost every day (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:21:37 PM EST
    of this campaign.

    The point I'd make about the dates is that it refutes the media spin (from Candy Crowley even) that it's of more significant because he is not just a Dem candidate but the frontrunner . I think she picked that up from ex-DOJ guy Eric Holder who works for Obama campaign. Right before her he said it's especially troubling because Obama is not just a Dem. candidate but the frontrunner and the presumptive nominee.

    In Jan Obama was nowhere near being the frontrunner.  He wasn't the frontrunner until the end of Feb. with his several small caucus state wins. And he's not the "presumptive nominee" now.


    Full investigation and now! (none / 0) (#60)
    by gpenderg on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:28:19 PM EST
    I knew it would happen! I think this will reveal the right wing law breaking tactics used by folks such as Sean Hannity. Afterall he boast daily on his "inside administrative sources", and how he turns this stuff up that the "liberal media" is too dumb to find. So, is this how he gathers  information to scare the heck out of his ignorant followers? I predict that this will land at the doorstep of the fearmongers who has been illegally gathering this classified information during the past 8 years and using it to destroy their political opponents. Just look at the CIA agent. Can you say Scooter Libby?


    Ironic (none / 0) (#69)
    by mm on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 06:38:03 AM EST
    Does anyone else find it rather ironic that at the same time when the entire news media have been scouring the recently released National Archives documents of Senator Clintons schedule, digging for anything of pruient interest, are so suddenly concerned about the "privacy" of Obama? With Clinton, nothing's private.

    There is not much there (none / 0) (#70)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 07:25:34 AM EST

    There is not much there compared to what would be in your health records.  How do the candidates health care proposals address the ability of government employees to look through your health records.

    Remember this crap.... (none / 0) (#71)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 07:48:44 AM EST
    when the govt. wants to set up yet another database or file.  

    And there's some little jerk in the FBI
    A keepin' papers on me six feet high
    It gets me down, it gets me down, it gets me down
    It gets me down

    -The Rollling Stones