Report pins ICE employee for leak of Obama aunt's immigration status
September 5th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
11 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. Rick McDaniel

    Obama goes after any and all who oppose him.

    September 6, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  2. dnokc

    Nothing to see here...apparently she's not from Kenya either.

    September 6, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  3. Name

    "Who me? I'm just friends with that reporter – but I mean, Americans have a right to know!" As soon as this person thought they could lose their job they changed their story – typical Tea Patriot – all talk and no caulk!

    September 6, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  4. Tony in Maine

    Cue a vigorous defense of the "whistleblower" by Reince et al.

    September 6, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  5. joedog

    A leak? It is on the Public Record. Transparency was thought to be the hallmark of the new Obama Administration? Lois Lerner at the IRS. Benghazi and the NSA leaks are so transparently descriptive about the Chicago ward politics style of running our Democracy. Now Syria. Obama would call for impeachment of Bush were the situatuon revertsed. Bush had intelligence agencies world wide agreeing with Colin Powell's testimony at the UN. We are left with the following in order to go to war: "The Obama administration claims that the Syrian government fired rockets loaded with nerve gas on opposition-controlled parts of the Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21, 2013. " Claims?

    September 6, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  6. Ray

    Why are they concerned about who told instead of why nothing was done about it?

    September 6, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  7. Andrew Smith

    I will play devil's advocate here and ask who's more responsible for this mess: a rogue agent whispering unfounded rumors about a presidential candidate's aunt's immigration status, or the media for reporting rumor as if it was fact?

    September 6, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  8. Joi Gibson

    He had no political motivation – call me cynical, but I think not.

    September 6, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  9. Rina

    What a piece of work. I hope the employee got fired.

    September 6, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. Natrldiver

    They questions is why was she here illegally in the first place? Why was she denied asylum? The whole story has not been told and there are definite holes. Why can't CNN get the information, or are they protecting the Obama family?

    September 6, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  11. Dave in SC

    "I had no political motivations." (cough)

    September 6, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  12. John N Florida

    The guy who released George W. Bush' college transcripts, a violation of Federal Law, should be getting out of Leavenworth either this year or next.
    I guess Bush does the same thing?

    September 6, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  13. The Other Bob

    joedog

    A leak? It is on the Public Record. Transparency was thought to be the hallmark of the new Obama Administration? Lois Lerner at the IRS. Benghazi and the NSA leaks are so transparently descriptive about the Chicago ward politics style of running our Democracy.
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________
    You are apparently another Obama-hater who can't understand a calendar. The leak (yes, it was a leak because the employee disclosed information without proper authorization) occurred before Obama was even elected, much less took office. FAIL

    September 6, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  14. danita

    Ok, why does the president's aunt get to stay when he deports folks. Also this aunt live off of the government as well.

    September 6, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  15. Frank

    @JOEDOG, attempting to rewrite history huh? Typical Teariator. Bush didn't have the Foreign intelligence agencies backing. In fact Germany and France stated that there WAS no uranium. Powell was either deliberately lied to by Bush/Cheny or lied himself. Here British intelligence confirms the gas attack but their political leadership does not want to get involved.

    September 6, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. Rosslaw

    Going after family members. A conservative principle and a good example of the right-wing's concept of manhood.

    September 6, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. scar69

    She was probably born in Hawaii also....

    September 6, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  18. Kevin Simmons

    Boy, if ICE worked this hard on every immigration case...Imagine what they could actually accomplish.

    September 6, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  19. Nathan

    It's a conspiracy I tell ya! A CONSPIRACY!

    September 6, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    -Rick McDaniel

    Obama goes after any and all who oppose him.
    ******************
    This is not about being a whistle-blower, this is about a person who made a decision to send confidential information about an individual to the Press: if this happened in the corporate world, that person would have been fired immediately. What is painfully obvious is that people who hate Obalam will oppose anything he does as treason, and lionize any sleazy individual as being heroic. There was nothing heroic in Manning, Snowden, or this idiot, only ego.

    September 6, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  21. midwest2

    As a government employee, maintaining the confidentiality of the information with which you are entrusted is something that is taught early on. Anyone who "leaked" this kind of information should have been immediately terminated. No excuses.

    September 6, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  22. Anonymous

    @The Real Tom Paine

    There was nothing heroic in Manning, Snowden, or this idiot, only ego.
    ====================

    Nothing heroic whatsoever. There those on the right who are now going against their previous opinions by hailing Manning and Snowden as heroes simply to put a spoke in the Democratic wheel in favor of a Rand Paul presidency which one assumes is geared more towards a high Republican turnout in 2014 . Their transparency is laughable if only because they will not succeed.

    September 6, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. brad

    How does the one protestor propose that the U.S. "force Iran to stop supporting the government in Syria". She supposedly is against bombing Syria, but isn't she now advocating that we bomb Iran instead? Unfortunately, some dictators and thugs only understand and respond to the language of force and violence...otherwise they wouldn't be so willing to kill 100,000+ of their own people instead of holding free and fair elections to determine who the people want to lead their country.

    September 6, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  24. Bill

    This is a red herring...pay attention to taxes, Syria, and our globalization of a socialist state. We're in trouble, voters...time to pay attention and vote.

    September 6, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Dave

    We dont even know where Obama is even born. His birth certificate had dozens of mistakes on it and appeared as if it was printed this morning.

    September 6, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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