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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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