WASHINGTON — Department of Homeland Security whistle-blower Philip Haney says he sought help from the House Homeland Security committee after he provided its members with pertinent information following the 2013 Boston bombing, but the committee refused to intervene when the Obama administration retaliated against Haney.
Instead, the committee sent him to an Obama administration official who was himself under investigation for covering up alleged corruption, Haney says. He worked at DHS’s National Targeting Center from November 2011 to June 2012, identifying radicalized individuals associated with terrorist organizations entering the United States.
“I identified individuals affiliated with large, but less well-known groups such as Tablighi Jamaat and the larger Deobandi movement freely transiting the United States,” he wrote in an article published in The Hill newspaper. “At the National Targeting Center, one of the premier organizations formed to ‘connect the dots,’ I played a major role in an investigation into this trans-national Islamist network. We created records of individuals, mosques, Islamic Centers and schools across the United States that were involved in this radicalization effort.”
However, late into President Obama’s first term and early into Obama’s second term, Haney says his work became compromised by DHS when it decided to shut down his investigation into the Islamic Institute of Education in Chicago, which was subsequently linked to the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah Mosque in San Bernardino, California, and the Pakistani women’s Islamist group al-Huda.
Haney asserts that had he been able to continue his work, he and his Customs and Border Protection (CBP) colleagues may have been able to flag San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook before he caused any harm. According to Haney, Farook’s mosque, San Bernardino’s Deobandi movement is affiliated with Dar-al-Uloom al-Islamia.
Farook’s wife and accomplice in the December 2015 massacre, Tashfeen Malik, went to school at Pakistan’s al-Huda, which also is connected to the Deobandi movement.
After nine months of work and more than 1,200 law enforcement actions, as well as being credited with identifying more than 300 individuals with possible links to terrorism, Haney says, DHS shut down the investigation at the request of the State Department and DHS’ Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Division. Additionally, the administration deleted 67 investigative records Haney entered into the DHS database, he claims.
In his first act of blowing the whistle, Haney notified Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of a DHS document casually known as the “terrorist hands off list.” The senator then contacted DHS for further information, and the document’s existence became publicly known in May 2014. Grassley is known as a government whistle-blower advocate.
In April 2015, Judicial Watch sued for the document’s release. Haney wrote in his book “See Something, Say Nothing” that in May 2014 Customs Border Patrol officials “refused to answer multiple questions” about the “hands off terrorist list” in a closed-door meeting with Grassley’s staff.
“I knew that data I was looking at could prove significant to future counter terror efforts and tried to prevent the information from being lost to law enforcement. On July 26, 2013, I met with the DHS Inspector General in coordination with several members of Congress (both House and Senate) to attempt to warn the American people’s elected representatives about the threat,” Haney wrote.
By 2013, as Haney wrote in his book, he met with several members of Congress, including South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert and Grassley to tell them what the administration was doing to his work. One other member, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, also met with Haney and assured him the committee would protect him, and his information, he said.
Then came the incident that he says led him to be placed under investigation.
Days after the Boston bombing that same year, Haney met with McCaul’s committee in person and gave the members information about a Saudi national who was detained after the attack. Based on that information, Rep. Duncan grilled former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on whether the man was going to be deported.
Napolitano said she did not think that the Saudi man was a person of interest.
“I am unaware of anyone who is being deported for national security concerns at all related to Boston. I don’t know where that rumor came from,” Napolitano said.
She said later, “Like I said, again I don’t even think he was technically a person of interest or a suspect. That was a wash. And I am unaware of any proceeding there, I will clarify that for you, but I think this is an example of why it is so important to let law enforcement to do its job.”
After the hearing, the committee wanted documentation that showed the Saudi man was, indeed, a person of interest. To get that documentation, the committee turned toDHS’s congressional liaison Ray Orzel .
Haney relayed the story of him sending the documentation to the committee in his book “See Something, Say Nothing.”
“It was my day off but I got dressed and went to a secure location near the airport and printed off copies of the files,” he wrote. “At about 4:45 p.m., I faxed the files to the secure number at the House Homeland Security Committee offices in the Ford Building.”
Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier and TheBlaze then obtained leaked copies of the files, which confirmed that the Saudi man had been a person of interest and that he had been added to the government’s no-fly list. DHS said that he had later been removed from the no-fly list after finding that he was a victim of the attack.
Immediately after those media reports, Haney says the Department of Justice, the DHS Office of Internal Affairs and the DHS inspector general launched investigations into him as a result of the information he gave to the Homeland Security Committee that Duncan used to question Napolitano.
McCaul’s committee, Haney says, did not speak up for him or intervene in any way and instead suggested that he go to the inspector general’s office, which at the time was headed by acting inspector general Charles Edwards.
“They knew that I was being investigated,” he told The Daily Caller. “Three separate investigations all at the same time, because they are trying to accuse me of being the one who leaked the information to the media. Why didn’t they help me?”
Acting inspector general Edwards had problems of his own. He was being investigated for corruption when McCaul sent Haney over to him. When asked by this reporter about Edwards during the investigation, McCaul said, “The allegations are serious and there’s also an independent review right now. This is one of those cases that if the misconduct is correct and the allegations are correct, and I know he’s been put on administrative leave — he should not only be fired, the U.S. attorneys office should be looking at it.”
A bipartisan Senate Oversight report stated that Edwards compromised his job with Obama administration political aides as he put forth an effort to be tapped as the permanent inspector general of DHS.
Additionally, Edwards was probed for instructing staff to change an OIG Report of Investigation about the U.S. Secret Service scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, a charge he denied.
Whistle-blowers cited in the report from the DHS OIG office claimed Edwards “improperly destroyed or concealed e-mails, phone records, and hotline complaints, inappropriately favored particular employees, and retaliated against those who brought attention to supposed misconduct through the use of administrative leave or poor performance reviews.”
Haney questioned why McCaul would send him to Edwards in the first place, given the accusations against him. Additionally, Haney sent an appeal letter to Homeland Committee chief counsel R. Nicholas Palarino, expressing concern that Edwards may have tampered with the report he wrote on Haney (p.176 “See Something, Say Nothing”).
The Daily Caller sent an inquiry to McCaul’s committee and asked why the Homeland Security Committee did not intervene when Haney was investigated for the information he gave them as well as why they sent Haney to an IG being investigated for corruption.
“We will pass on the opportunity to participate,” a committee spokeswoman responded.