Recently revealed documents show that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has, for the last several years, maintained a “hands off list,” a list that makes it possible for individuals with dangerous terrorist connections to make their way into the U.S.
In response to this shocking revelation, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the DHS on February 15, 2015, to obtain a copy of an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report concerning this “hands off list.” This lawsuit also asked for any and all records of former DHS Inspector General Charles Edwards regarding the OIG report.
The scandal first came to light on May 6, 2014, when Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) released internal DHS emails revealing an alleged terrorist “hands off list” allowing individuals with potential terrorist ties into the United States. The emails were attached to a letter Grassley sent to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson inquiring about the “hands off list” in general, and specifically seeking information about an unnamed individual DHS may have admitted into the country using this list.
The DHS emails included a 2012 email chain between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about whether officials would admit the unnamed individual with ties to various terrorist groups. The person was believed to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a close associate and supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to the email exchange obtained by Grassley’s office.
In his letter to Johnson, Grassley quotes an email from an ICE official to a CBP official which reads, “I’m puzzled how someone could be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, be an associate of [redacted], say that the US is staging car bombings in Iraq and that [it] is ok for men to beat their wives, question who was behind the 9/11 attacks, and be afforded the luxury of a visitor visa and de-watchlisted.”
On May 19, 2014, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Mike McCaul (R-TX) told Breitbart News that that the “terrorist hands off list” emails released by Grassley had been under investigation by the newly appointed DHS IG John Roth for more than three months.
McCaul added, “The new IG has inherited this matter. He’s a new IG. He’s pretty decent–well respected. Obviously, his predecessor was not.”
Roth’s predecessor was Charles Edwards, who left office after a series of allegations that he had softened reports to avoid embarrassing the Obama administration. According to an April 24, 2014, report from an oversight panel of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee, Edwards “failed to uphold the independence of the OIG … and directed that reports be altered or delayed to accommodate senior DHS officials.”
According to Grassley, at least one terrorist benefited from the “hands off” policy.
The existence of this “hands off list,” and the disregard for national security to which it seems to point on the part of the Obama administration, begs several questions.
Who was this person?
How did this person make it onto the list?
Why is the DHS OIG, in light of that office’s record of corruption, participating in the cover-up by refusing to turn over basic information Judicial Watch has already requested?
Did any politician in the White House, DHS or even Congress pull strings to give this person “amnesty” for his or her prior terrorist leanings in order to allow him or her entry into the United States?
Most importantly, how many other dubious foreign nationals have been allowed into the United States thanks to this “hands off” policy?
This list, if indeed it exists, represents a threat to national security, and could result in the death of innocent Americans. This administration has already proven it is willing to release violent criminals already here illegally back into society, where they have gone on to murder, rape and assault again.
Is it such a stretch to assume something similar is at play here?
The truth is that this administration is more than willing to trumpet the virtues of transparency when releasing information benefits the White House politically. If there were answers to this question that would help the Obama administration, Judicial Watch would not have had to sue in federal court to obtain them.
Even when it comes to protecting America’s borders from known terrorists, the Obama administration places secrecy and politics above national security and the rule of law.