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Passport data seen as open to abuse

WASHINGTON — A State Department passport record system that holds personal data on more than 120 million Americans is wide open to abuse and unable to prevent or detect unauthorized access, investigators said Thursday.

The review by the department's inspector general was ordered after revelations in March that State Department employees and contractors had accessed the files of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama.

The IG report found a much broader problem.

Investigators surveyed the records of 150 high-profile Americans, whose names were selected from Forbes and Sports Illustrated magazine lists and Internet search engine Google's most-searched names.

Of the 150 — who weren't named in the report — 127, or 85 percent, had had their passport files accessed a total of 4,148 times, strongly suggesting attempts at unauthorized access.

”The system is unable to protect itself,“ said one State Department official, who requested anonymity to speak more freely. ”Anybody can go in.“

State Department officials disclosed Thursday that two more contract employees have been fired for accessing passport records without authorization, in addition to the three who were terminated after the March disclosures.

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