Report pins ICE employee for leak of Obama aunt's immigration status
September 5th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
12 months ago

Report pins ICE employee for leak of Obama aunt's immigration status

Washington (CNN) – Shortly before the 2008 presidential election, the illegal immigration status of then-candidate Barack Obama's aunt was leaked to an Associated Press reporter. The leaker of that information did not go unidentified, a newly released investigative report shows.

Under questioning, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement employee admitted telling a "rumor" to a reporter about Zeituni Onyango's immigration status – she had been denied asylum at the time and was facing deportation.

An immigration judge would eventually give her legal status allowing her to stay in the United States.

The inquiry found the ICE employee called the reporter on October 31, 2008, only a week before the election won by Obama. The employee's name was redacted from the report.

The investigation found that the employee disclosed an individual's immigration information without authorization, attempted to mislead investigators that his contact with the reporter was only social, and that he misused government property in leaking the information.

The report was completed August 10, 2010, but was released recently following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Huffington Post.

The employee would tell investigators that his leak was an "error in judgment" and had not considered the release of the information to be official – despite having done so from a government phone.

According to the report, the employee said: "I mean in retrospect it was an error in judgment. No doubt about it. I had no political motivations."

He thought of his disclosure of the information that "the American public has a right to know that."

The report gives no indication of any disciplinary measures conducted as a result.

Contacted for comment on Thursday, ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen would only comment about the department's policy.

"ICE does not comment on whether management action is taken as a result of an investigation done by OPR unless the resolution results in some kind of criminal or other public administrative action," Christensen said.

Read the detailed report here.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. Wazademokrat

    He was wrong to violate policy and devulge the illegal status of the president's aunt. I'm sure the appropriate punishment has been metted out, like maybe two work days without a coffee break or something.

    September 6, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. Dulouz

    Hard to make the "rules are rules" argument with the massive corruption of illegal immigration.

    September 6, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Diogenes

    It's interesting that our government can ferret out who leaked information on the President's aunt but cannot figure out who was behind the IRS targeting on conservative groups, what happened at Benghazi, how Fast and Furious happened or what to do in Syria.

    September 6, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. The Other Bob

    Diogenes

    It's interesting that our government can ferret out who leaked information on the President's aunt but cannot figure out who was behind the IRS targeting on conservative groups, what happened at Benghazi, how Fast and Furious happened or what to do in Syria.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Yes, those events are of equal complexity. NOT
    And I suppose you have conveniently forgotten that the IRS targeted liberal grouips also.

    September 6, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  5. Joe Seattle

    Usual particon comments here. I like the ones trying to say his aunt's immigration status was immaterial to election when Obama's citizenship was under question at the time (still is – he never did release his school records, for instance; seems to have a lot to hide for a guy who ran for public office). Love the one suggesting that if one had access to the medical records of a leading presidential candidate that said he was going to die a month after taking office that one wouldn't be faced with an ethics dilemma.

    It'd be very interesting to study how democrat would address that one, since the highest power most among them seem to recognize is below the waist.

    September 6, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. The Other Bob

    Scarface86

    The Other Bob nice talking points. I guess the death of four Americans, including an ambassador is a phony scandal if you do not want to critisize your beloved President. I guess the NSA taking away our freedom is phony. I guess the politiczation of the IRS is phony. In the immortal words of Hillary "What does it matter."
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Please refresh my memory as to the culpability found by these Congressional witch hunts.

    September 6, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Des Perado

    In a related story…it was learned Friday that the redacted name was in the Black Forest loading trains
    Telling conservatives and Christians…hurry along now—you don’t need luggage or even need your brains
    And when they turn on the gas just breathe real fast and hopefully you and all the world will soon forget
    It was CNN, et. al., and OTHER Demwit media who helped Obama’s SS put your grandchildren 17 trillion in debt !!!

    September 6, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  8. The Other Bob

    Joe Seattle

    Usual particon comments here. I like the ones trying to say his aunt's immigration status was immaterial to election when Obama's citizenship was under question at the time (still is – he never did release his school records...
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________
    His citizenship is only under question by the ignorant.
    Of what relevance were/are his school records?

    September 6, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. sly

    Only White Males should be allowed to vote or hold office. That's how us Tea Partiers roll.

    Where's his Birth Certificate? Huh? He must show it to me or I won't think he is real.

    Unbelievable that Democrats want to let women and minorities vote in America. What ever happened to the good old days?

    September 6, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. Cassandra

    Well, isn't this special. I'm sure the ICE employee had no political motivations. Just doin' his job as a patriot. Yeah, right, aren't we all. Damn good thing that no similarly-minded red-blooded American IRS agent ever released any of Mitt's problematic little tax returns–you know, those decades chock-full of interesting numbers he declined to share with us on the grounds that his income was a deeply personal and private family matter.

    September 6, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Let Me Count the Ways

    ...you are WAYYYY too funny, Diogenes.

    Seriously, if you're looking for an honest man, you need to go home and get a MUCH bigger lamp.
    ;)

    September 6, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. frank

    What difference does it make? No special treatment just because she is Obama's illegal alien Aunt. Outta Here!

    September 6, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Gary

    All the other comparisons to other events aside (and that is in no way meant to trivialize those events) when government employees are identified as abusers of the public trust, why are they seemingly never disciplined? I don't care whose aunt it was, this person released private information obtained due to his position and should have been fired. Also, if his motive wasn't political and he only released the private information because the American public has a right to know, that must mean he has also publicly released information on each of the other cases he has ever reviewed in his career.

    September 6, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. bcrunner

    Very interesting! In one sentence this ICE employee says "I had no political motivations..." and then in the next sentence says "the American public has the right to know". Really?? No political motives????

    September 6, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Barack Obama

    I am above the rules!

    September 6, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. bettiejean

    So what's the employee's name?

    September 6, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. Bill

    Oh, come on......it's not as though they didn't know who did it, before the investigation, with the NSA listening in on everyone's phone calls!

    It would be interesting, however, to hear the results of an investigation into whether there was a conflict of interest, on anyone's part, that led to this woman magically attaining legal immigration status.

    September 6, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  18. wade moran

    So when a law enforcement officer does their job, but it pertains to anything that might reflect negatively on Owebama, it's called a "leak?"

    September 6, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. belinda

    IICE employees, continue to do whatever they want, regardless of breaking the rules. Instead of being fired like everyone else would be , they seem to have a preferred status of some sort. They deny immigration, for political reasons and get away with it, why would we expect for this situation to be any different ?

    September 6, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  20. alan

    The real story here is that the Obama family was TWICE able to avail themselves of 'escape valve' provisions in the law that are theoretically available to the Immigrant relatives of other U.S. Citizens, but in practice never given out.

    If this were a South American country, we'd be calling it corruption... If All U.S. citizens should had their immigrant family members treated with the same respect and fast turnaround through the system as the Obamas were, we would not need Immigration Reform...

    September 6, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  21. J R Brown

    It's hard to believe a President who claims to want immigration reform when his own family is in the country illegally....what he REALLY wants is amnesty for illegal immigrants. He's giving away everything else...why not just give away the birthright of American citizenship to people who trespass into our homeland? Next, he'll want you to give them your house so they have a place to call "their home"....

    September 6, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  22. M.A.P.

    Obviously his intention was to stirr up the "birthers" and rac-ists who tried so desperately to de-rail Obama's campaigmn. They failed then and they fail again now with this new revelation. To a tea party loser it might be valuable information, to the rest of us it comes across as a bitter xenophobic attack.

    September 7, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
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