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Passport files of candidates breached (=an action that breaks a law, rule, or agreement)
Records of Clinton, McCain, Obama inappropriately (=without legal permissions) accessed, officials say

WASHINGTON - State Department employees snooped (=to try to find out about someone's private affairs by secretly looking in their house, examining their possessions etc) through the passport files of three presidential candidates — Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain — and the department's inspector general is investigating.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the violations of McCain and Clinton's passport files were not discovered until Friday, after officials were made aware of the unauthorized access of Obama's records and a separate search was conducted.

Question: When did the officials come to know about the violations of McCain and Clinton's passport files - before or after the unauthorized access of Obama's record?

The incidents raise questions as to whether the information was accessed for political purposes and why two contractors involved in the Obama search were dismissed before investigators had a chance to interview them. It recalled an incident in 1992, when a Republican political appointee at the State Department was demoted (=to make someone's rank or position lower or less important) over a search of presidential candidate Bill Clinton's passport records. At the time, Clinton was challenging (=to question something) President George H.W. Bush.

McCormack said one of the individuals who accessed Obama's files also reviewed McCain's file earlier this year. This contract Question: What is a contract employee? employee has been reprimanded (=to tell someone officially that something they have done is very wrong), but not fired. The individual no longer has access to passport records, he said.

"I can assure you that person's going to be at the top of the list of the inspector general when they talk to people, and we are currently reviewing our (disciplinary) options with respect to that person," McCormack said.

Question: In ''they talk to people what does they stand for - If it stands for inspector general then inspector general is singular person, not plural?

Apologizing and investigating
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with all three candicates on Friday and expressed her regrets. In the meantime, State Department officials headed to Capitol Hill (=Capitol is the building in Washington D.C. where the US Congress meets and Capitol Hill is the hill in Washington D.C. where the Capitol building stands. Congress consists of the group of people elected to make laws in the US, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. House of Representatives consists of the members directly elected by the people or elected by popular vote) to brief the candidates' staffs.

After speaking with Obama, Rice told reporters: "I told him that I was sorry, and I told him that I myself would be very disturbed."

Question: I would have written, I myself would be very disturbed if such a thing has happened to me. Is my way correct? If I am correct, then why is the shorter form used?

The State Department said the Justice Department would be monitoring the probe (=an investigation in which many questions are asked to discover the truth about something) in case it needs to get involved.

Question: I couldn't understand the part where it says it needs get involved.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the case has not yet been referred to the Justice Department for investigation, and indicated prosecutors likely would wait until the State Department's inspector general concludes its inquiry. But Mukasey did not rule out the possibility of the Justice Department taking an independent look (=an attempt to find something) at the passport breach.

"Have they asked us to become involved — no," Mukasey told reporters during a Friday briefing. "When, as, and if we have a basis for an investigation, including a reference — that is, one basis would be a reference — we could conduct one."

Question: What is a reference? I couldn't find any meaning which fitted in the context. And I also couldn't understand the part when, asn and if.

Asked what another basis could be, Mukasey said: "I don't want to speculate but if somebody walked in here with a box full of evidence, they wouldn't be turned away (=to refuse to allow sb/sth to enter a place)."

Question: I would have used walks instead of walked. What do you say on this? What does they stand for?

Record of incidents
In Clinton's case, an individual last summer accessed her file as part of a training session involving another State Department worker. McCormack said the one-time violation was immediately recognized and the person was admonished (=to tell someone severely that they have done something wrong).

Obama's records were accessed without permission on three separate occasions — Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and as recently as last week, on March 14.

McCormack declined to name the companies that employed the contractors, despite demands by a senior House Democrat that such information is in the public interest.

Question: What are these companies? What is a House Democrat?


"At this point, we just started an investigation," he said. "We want to err on the side of caution (=to be too careful rather than take a risk)."

McCain, who was in Paris on Friday, said any breach of passport privacy deserves an apology and a full investigation.

"The United States of America values everyone's privacy and corrective action should be taken," he said.

It is not clear whether the employees saw anything other than the basic personal data such as name, citizenship, age, Social Security number (=in the US, an official identity number that everyone is given when they are born) and place of birth, which is required when a person fills out a passport application.

Privacy issues
Aside from the file, the information could allow critics to dig deeper into the candidates' private lives. While the file includes date and place of birth, address at time of application and the countries the person has traveled to, the most important detail would be their Social Security number, which can be used to pull credit reports and other personal information.

Question: The part aside from the file doesn't seem correct in my opinion. I believe it should have been ''aside from the basic personal data. What do you say?
What are credit reports?


The firings (=to be severely criticized for something you have done - used in news reports) and unspecified discipline of the third employee already had occurred when senior State Department officials learned of the break-ins (=an act of entering a building illegally and by force, especially in order to steal things) to the files. Rice learned about it Thursday, after a reporter inquired about Obama's case.

Question: I would have used firing instead of firings. What do you say?
What does unspecified discipline mean?


The violations were detected by internal State Department computer checks because certain records, including those of high-profile people, are "flagged" with a computer tag that tips off (=a secret warning or piece of information, especially one given to the police about illegal activities) supervisors when someone tries to view the records without a proper reason.

The Washington Times first reported the incident involving Obama.

Question: I would have written: The Washington Times was the first to report.... What do you say?

Former Independent Counsel Joseph diGenova said the firings of the contract employees will make the investigation more difficult because the inspector general can't compel them to talk.

"My guess is if he tries to talk to them now, in all likelihood (=almost certainly) they will take the Fifth," diGenova said, referring to the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination (=is the act of accusing oneself of a crime for which a person can then be prosecuted).

On Thursday, the State Department's top management officer, Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy, said the incident was not handled properly.

"I will fully acknowledge this information should have been passed up the line," Kennedy told reporters in a conference call. "It was dealt with (=handled) at the office level."

In answer to a question, Kennedy said the department doesn't look into political affiliation in doing background checks on passport workers. "Now that this has arisen, this becomes a germane (=relevant) question, and that will be something for the appropriate investigation to look into," he said.
Comments  
You should make the correction yourself, I'm just telling you your sentence is wrong:
I myself would be very disturbed if such a thing has happened to me.
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I would have used walks instead of walked. Wrong idea.
Generally speaking, learn your conditionals, you seem to have a quite poor idea of them, sorry.

http://www.englishpage.com/conditional/conditionalintro.html
The (many) people in the inspector general's office:
Question: In ''they talk to people what does they stand for - If it stands for inspector general then inspector general is singular person, not plural?
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
The State Department said the Justice Department would be monitoring
the probe in case it needs to get involved.

in case: as a precaution against the event that
someone from the outside hired for a short-term, limited job:
Question: What is a contract employee?
Way, way, way too much in one post! Maybe next time you could split these into separate posts?
Jackson6612State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the violations of McCain and Clinton's passport files were not discovered until Friday, after officials were made aware of the unauthorized access of Obama's records and a separate search was conducted.

Question: When did the officials come to know about the violations of McCain and Clinton's passport files - before or after the unauthorized access of Obama's record?
According to the quoted statement, it was after.
Jackson6612This contract Question: What is a contract employee? employee has been ...
A contract employee is someone who is not an employee of the organization he is working at. One company hires another company to provide it employees. These are the contract employees. They go to work at any company that needs them, often temporarily.
Jackson6612"I can assure you that person's going to be at the top of the list of the inspector general when they talk to people, and we are currently reviewing our (disciplinary) options with respect to that person," McCormack said.

Question: In ''they talk to people what does they stand for - If it stands for inspector general then inspector general is singular person, not plural?
This may be a mistake. they might stand for inspectors general. Or, the speaker may have been thinking that the people who work for the office of the inspector general were going to talk to others during their investigations. So they stands for the people at the office of the inspector general.
Jackson6612After speaking with Obama, Rice told reporters: "I told him that I was sorry, and I told him that I myself would be very disturbed."

Question: I would have written, I myself would be very disturbed if such a thing has happened to me. Is my way correct? If I am correct, then why is the shorter form used?
The complete form is I myself would be very disturbed if such a thing happened to me. (Not has happened.) The shorter form is used because the longer form is not necessary. Anybody following the story knows exactly what Rice means.
Jackson6612The State Department said the Justice Department would be monitoring the probe (=an investigation in which many questions are asked to discover the truth about something) in case it needs to get involved.

Question: I couldn't understand the part where it says it needs get involved.
in case the Justice Department needs to get involved / if the Justice Department needs to do something about the situation
Jackson6612"Have they asked us to become involved — no," Mukasey told reporters during a Friday briefing. "When, as, and if we have a basis for an investigation, including a reference — that is, one basis would be a reference — we could conduct one."

Question: What is a reference? I couldn't find any meaning which fitted in the context. And I also couldn't understand the part when, asn and if.
I'm not sure what they mean by reference. It could be the name of a specific person who acted improperly.
when, as, and if we have ... means when we have ... and as we have ... and if we have ....
Jackson6612I don't want to speculate but if somebody walked in here with a box full of evidence, they wouldn't be turned away (=to refuse to allow sb/sth to enter a place)."

Question: I would have used walks instead of walked. What do you say on this? What does they stand for?
It's a second conditional structure. IF [past] (then) ... WOULD ... they refers to the "somebody that walked in", whoever that may be.
Jackson6612McCormack declined to name the companies that employed the contractors, despite demands by a senior House Democrat that such information is in the public interest.

Question: What are these companies? What is a House Democrat?

See the explanation above regarding contract employees. A contract employee is also called a contractor. A House Democrat is a member of the Democratic Party who was elected to and is now serving in the United States House of Representatives. (There are a total of 435 representatives.)
Jackson6612Aside from the file, the information could allow critics to dig deeper into the candidates' private lives. While the file includes date and place of birth, address at time of application and the countries the person has traveled to, the most important detail would be their Social Security number, which can be used to pull credit reports and other personal information.

Question: The part aside from the file doesn't seem correct in my opinion. I believe it should have been ''aside from the basic personal data. What do you say?
What are credit reports?

Aside from the file means the same thing and is shorter. It's correct as is. Credit reports are reports on a person's finances, particularly from the viewpoint of his ability to pay back any loans.
Jackson6612The firings (=to be severely criticized for something you have done - used in news reports) and unspecified discipline of the third employee ...

Question: I would have used firing instead of firings. What do you say?
What does unspecified discipline mean?
A firing is the dismissal of an employee. The employee is told to leave. He is no longer employed and must try to find another job somewhere else. Two employees were dismissed, that is, fired, so there were two firings. Being fired is a punishment for doing something wrong. Apparently the third employee was not fired for what he did wrong. For his punishment he was disciplined, that is, something was done to punish him. What was done was not specified. In other words, nobody said how the third employee was punished.
Jackson6612The Washington Times first reported the incident involving Obama.

Question: I would have written: The Washington Times was the first to report.. What do you say?
Your way is certainly also a very good way to state that fact. Both are correct.
CJ
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Way, way, way too much in one post!
What does way mean in the above expression?

Jackson wote:
After speaking with Obama, Rice told reporters: "I told him that I was sorry, and I told him that I myself would be very disturbed."

I would have written, I myself would be very disturbed if such a thing has happened to me. Is my way correct?

CJ wrote:
The complete form is I myself would be very disturbed if such a thing happened to me. (Not has happened.)
Question: Could it be written I myself would be very disturbed if such a thing had happened to me keeping the meaning same as ''...a thing happened to me''?

Jackson wrote:
What is a reference? I couldn't find any meaning which fitted in the context. And I also couldn't understand the part when, as and if.

CJ wrote:
I'm not sure what they mean by reference. It could be the name of a specific person who acted improperly.

when, as, and if we have ... means when we have ... and as we have ... and if we have ....


I found found this on Wikipedia:
In Canadian law, a Reference Question is a submission by the federal or a provincial government to the courts asking for an opinion on a major legal issue.

Perhaps reference mean somewhat the same as a reference question.

I would have taken when, as and if as when we have... or as we have... or if we have. I wouldn't use and.