Report pins ICE employee for leak of Obama aunt's immigration status
September 5th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
9 years 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. Ultraconservative II

    Amazing. We were able to find the ICE leaker when it was a negative for Obama, but no one seems to know anything about who did what at the IRS.

    September 6, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  2. Ellen in CA

    Information being transmitted by government agencies seems to be up for grabs by employees who work in those agencies. We know this from Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. These leakers would not be so important except we have thousands of men and women serving around the world in dangerous places. Maybe there should be a better way of investigating anyone who applies for a government job. As it stands today government agencies are part of the problem.

    September 6, 2013 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  3. CNN lapdog

    good thing the government and CNN spent valuable time tracking down an employee that revealed a crime in 2008, as opposed to the completely useless endeavor of who gave the stand-down order in Benghazi last year; of why there were three different stories given by the administration for the cause; of why terrorism was not admitted as the cause; or even of why all the State Department employees involved still have jobs.

    Absolutely AWESOME

    September 6, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  4. Behjat

    Even if Mr.Obama's aunt was or is an illegal immigrant, what does it have to do with him? We can't be responsible for our relatives and their actions.

    September 6, 2013 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  5. Scott

    No political motivation? A week before the election? BS!

    September 6, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  6. thenakedpolitico

    and a uncle,friends,and most likely a hundred more we'll never hear of,obama,oh,what a bummer!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 6, 2013 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  7. john hanson

    He tried to manipulate a national election and still had no "political motivations?"

    September 6, 2013 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  8. Charles Jacques

    Still here Illegally and still here, living off the sweat of the brow of working citizens.

    September 6, 2013 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
  9. navaJohn

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

    Listen to all these failures, Manning, Snowden and now this guy, who hide behind the same excuses. They all held trusted positions and took an oath to uphold their responsibilities in their positions. But their egos and the possibility of fame took over and now we all are paying a price for it.

    September 6, 2013 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  10. praline3001

    WOW.. so this ICE guy did the RIGHT thing by reporting someone illegally here in this country and he gets called on the "leak"? Someone should be giving him a raise for doing his job. Our current administration loves that word: LEAK but only when it concerns him and his wrong doing. I feel bad for the aunt but really ~ we have immigration laws for a reason and Obama should know these laws. I say give the ICE a pat on the back and a raise =)

    September 6, 2013 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  11. jim

    Person should get a raise and a medal.

    September 6, 2013 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  12. sgreco

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

    " '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."

    Hm I guess he appreciates the public NOT having the right to know when it concerns HIM, eh?

    September 6, 2013 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  13. Rob

    And we should have known. Just showed how corrupt Obama is. Just one of the first signs

    September 6, 2013 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  14. Alan

    When is Rep. Darrell Issa going to start the investigation of ICE over this "scandal"?

    September 6, 2013 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  15. R G

    how many strings did obama pull so she could stay in this country

    September 6, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  16. Name willard

    God know that obama aunt uncle was born in keynea but people amercian not know who is presdient obama ????

    September 6, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  17. The fact of the matter

    Obama – busted again. The bureaucrats take offense ... oops.

    September 6, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  18. Karin

    Really? They are after the ICE agent? Never mind that the Aunt was here Illegally and soaking up Welfare from Us taxpayers.....Was she using fraudulent ID? How on earth did she qualify for Welfare? Of course she and Obama's other Illegal Uncle (that recently got DUI) get deported...This disgusts me

    September 6, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  19. Ron Harper

    how much did that witch hunt cost the taxpayers?

    September 6, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  20. Hippies get a job

    well i am glad to see obama is getting to the bottom of these pressing issues. next he will catch the hamburgler! however Bengazi, the NSA spying, the IRS, and the rest of the real issues are too big for him to tackle. good job mr president.

    September 6, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I couldn't care less at this point.
    They are still trying to dig up stuff on the President.
    Elected in 2008 and re-elected 2012.
    That's all I care about.

    September 6, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  22. steve

    President Transparency should give this guy a medal for openess.

    September 6, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    This person, at the very least, should have been fired. The leaking information about a high profile person, who is under Secret Service protection, placed his his aunt's life in jeopardy. The persons should have paid a serious price for such a flagrant "error in judgment", which the person later tried to cover up and lie about ever doing it.

    September 6, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  24. matt houston

    So someone broke a law to try to make Obama look bad. Surprise surprise.

    September 6, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  25. Government Waste Rules

    This employee had better go into hiding. Obama is a vain, petty tyrant and will no doubt make his life miserable.

    September 6, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
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