JULY 12, 2012
Documents Detail Stonewall of Congressional, Press Inquiries and Leak Investigation
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it has obtained records from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding President Obama’s illegal alien uncle, Onyango Obama, who was arrested in August 2011 on drunken driving charges in Framingham, Massachusetts. The records include internal ICE correspondence showing agency officials withholding information on Onyango’s release from the press and possibly from Congress. The documents were turned over to Judicial Watch yesterday (July 11) pursuant to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on April 10, 2012. (Judicial Watch first asked for these records in September 2011.)
Among the highlights from the newly disclosed records:
- A September 8, 2011, email from Boston Globe reporter Maria Sacchetti to Brian Hale, Assistant Director of the Office of Public Affairs, criticizing the agency’s refusal to confirm whether or not Onyango was in custody, despite the fact the information had already been made public: “I am astonished that ICE is unable to confirm information about the release of Onyango Obama – information that is already available to the public on ICE’s website. The administration took office pledging to become more transparent, but we are getting far less information about the arrests and detention of people than before and we have seen the same shutdown in immigration court, without explanation.”
“I think it is preposterous that I will have to write in the Boston Globe tomorrow that the federal agency in charge of detaining immigrants refuses to say whether he is in custody or not – even as its own website clearly says he is not.”
- A September 8, 2011, internal ICE email from Privacy Officer Lyn Rahilly to ICE colleagues, including Brian Hale, claiming that the information related to Onyango was apparently “leaked by someone with access to ICE and USCIS systems,” and indicating that the matter had been referred to the Inspector General.
Ms. Rahilly then explained why the agency refuses to confirm reports of Onyango’s release: “We don’t consider the fact that a person’s information may be able to be found by attorneys, families and friends of the individual…to mean that the information is de facto public for purposes of media inquiries or under FOIA.” Rahilly wrote. “Given that there appears to have been a leak of this person’s information, and the low public interest in the details requested by the Globe, [Chief Privacy Officer/Chief FOIA Officer] Mary Ellen [Callahan] and I did not find that the public interest outweighed the privacy interest in this instance.”
The records also include an internal ICE email showing the agency’s unwillingness to respond to an inquiry from Rep. Lamar Smith’s office.
On March 27, 2012, Onyango Obama admitted to the Framingham District Court that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, meanwhile, indicated the agency will continue deportation proceedings against Obama: “Now that (Mr. Obama’s) criminal case has completed, ICE has communicated, in accordance with standard procedure, with the attorney of record regarding his removal pursuant to a previous final order by an immigration judge,” agency spokesman Brian Hale said, per the Boston Herald. (Onyango was first ordered out of the country in 1989.)
Obama, who, upon his arrest, said his one phone call would be to the White House, has indicated he will fight ICE’s efforts to deport him in a high profile proceeding the Boston Herald conjectured could “drag on for years.” While he fights deportation, Obama will be allowed to drive a car. He was supposed to lose his license for 45 days, but received a “hardship license,” from the Massachusetts’s Department of Motor Vehicles so that he could drive back and forth to his job at a liquor store.
“One thing is clear from these records, Immigration and Customs Enforcement attempted to stonewall the release of information about President Obama’s illegal alien uncle,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is precisely because of Onyango’s family relationship to President Obama that ICE should have been more transparent, not less.”
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