"Imprudent Curiosity"

A campaign blog.
March 21 2008 12:29 PM

"Imprudent Curiosity"

Of all the explanations floated as to why three State Department employees were snooping around Barack Obama's passport files—and, it now turns out , Hillary Clinton's and John McCain's—the most plausible one is also the simplest: "imprudent curiosity."

That's what State Department spokesman Sean McCormick called it, and although his job is to spin, it rings true. Temp jobs are inherently unaccountable—you're in, you do your work, you're out. You're less likely to want to develop a lasting relationship with your employer and therefore might be more willing to take a peek at federal records, especially if they're sitting there under your nose.

Advertisement

Naturally, the State Deptartment had to react forcefully, lest anyone believe suggestions that the security breach was political motivated. Condoleezza Rice called Obama personally to apologize and promised a full investigation. But all signs so far point to plain old nosiness. It's hard to see partisanship playing a role: Andrea Mitchell points out that Maura Harty, the person in charge of management and consular affairs, has worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Plus, the same employees peeked at Clinton and McCain's files, too. Seems more like a case of managerial incompetence than partisan skullduggery.

But hey, at least Obama got another umbrage-taking opportunity out of it.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.