An investigation into whether any officials from the U.S. Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement improperly disclosed the legal status of the aunt of then-Sen. Barack Obama shortly before the 2008 election will come to a conclusion shortly, TPMMuckraker has learned.
The Office of Professional Responsibility at ICE is expected to make a recommendation in the coming days and weeks, a Department of Homeland Security official speaking on condition of anonymity told TPMMuckraker.
The matter was referred to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General and ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility on Nov. 1, 2008.
ICE, which is a part of DHS, ultimately handled the investigation, according to the official. The results of the probe will likely have to be obtained via Freedom of Information Act request, which are typically redacted.
If the Office of Professional Responsibility determines the law was broken due to the disclosure of law enforcement sensitive information, the office could recommend punishments as harsh as termination or even referral for prosecution.
Whatever recommendation is made would be referred to Assistant Secretary John Morton, who heads up ICE.
The original Associated Press story that spawned the investigation cited two sources, including a federal law enforcement official, and was authored by Eileen Sullivan and Elliot Spagat. Neither reporter immediately returned an e-mail seeking comment.
As TPMMuckraker previously noted, it is not certain that the leak came from ICE, as the information would also be available to the Justice Department, which has a role in immigration proceedings.
When the story was published three days before election day, the AP said it could not establish whether any official at a political level in the Bush administration or an official from the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was involved in the release of the information.
Immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro, a Republican nominee, allowed Zeituni Onyango to stay in the U.S., ruling that the disclosure of her status as an asylum applicant would expose her to increased threats in her home country of Kenya.