Oops! McCain Camp Sells Loaded BlackBerry

Andrew R. Hickey
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An Arlington, Va.-based Fox 5 investigative team this week said they bought a Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry from the McCain-Palin camp containing a plethora of confidential campaign information including phone numbers, emails and other information.

According to the reporters' take, the campaign was selling off used office inventory at bargain prices at its headquarters, including phones, computers and other equipment. Among the hot items, several $20 BlackBerry smart phones with dead batteries and no chargers included. The reporters bought a couple.

"When we charged them up in the newsroom, we found one of the $20 BlackBerry phones contained more than 50 phone numbers for people connected with the McCain-Palin campaign, as well as hundreds of emails from early September until a few days after election night," Fox 5 investigative reporters Tisha Thompson and Rick Yarborough wrote in their account.

The pair was able to trace the BlackBerry back to a "Citizens for McCain" staffer, a group of Democrats that put their support behind the Republican presidential nominee. According to the reporters, the emails offered an inside glimpse into how grassroots operations work and included a host of scheduling questions and please for support.

Many of the numbers the campaign failed to wipe, or permanently delete, from the device were private cell phone numbers for campaign leaders, politicians, lobbyists and journalists, the report said. Failing to remove information from a device before selling it could result in a serious breach of security.

Selling an unwiped BlackBerry is not really a flub expected from McCain, considering one of his advisors once credited McCain with inventing the smart phone.

The pair decided to call some of the numbers.

"Somebody made a mistake," one owner told them. "People's numbers and addresses were supposed to be erased."

Another noted: "They should've wiped that stuff out," later adding "Given the way the campaign was run, this is not a surprise."

The McCain-Palin camp told the reporters that the sale of a smart phone with confidential campaign information was "an unfortunate staff error" and that "procedures are being put in place to ensure all information is secure."

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