Van Nuys, CA – Congressman Howard L. Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today issued the following statement about the revelation that State Department employees had improperly accessed the passport files of current presidential candidates:

“It is unacceptable for a government employee to invade the privacy of any individual. We must guard against government abuse of power, whether for political or other purposes.

“The disciplinary action that the State Department has taken in this case thus far seems to be appropriate. The Department has affirmed that a senior, non-political, career staff member in the Inspector General’s office is now investigating.

“However, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees the State Department, will also investigate this matter.

“The circumstances in this case may be different from the George H.W. Bush Administration’s snooping into Bill Clinton’s passport records during the 1992 presidential campaign. But it is worth noting that that earlier situation also was characterized as isolated and non-political when the news initially emerged. This time, as then, Congress will pay close attention to the depth of Executive Branch involvement in the rifling of presidential candidates’ passport files.”

Berman chaired the International Operations Subcommittee during the congressional investigation into the 1992 passport snooping case. The current chairman of the International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight Subcommittee is Bill Delahunt (D-MA).

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