Sunday, December 18, 2016

U.S. Customs, Homeland Security Records Reveal Somalis Given Security Briefings, ‘Community Engagement Tours’ in Secured Areas at Major U.S. Airports

Judicial Watch today released 31 pages of records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection revealing that the Department of Homeland Security has given Somalis “community engagement tours,” including security briefings, in secured areas at least three major U.S. airports – Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Columbus, Ohio.

The records came in response to a May 2016 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which sought records, documents and communications regarding a “Community Engagement Tour” in Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on February 18, 2016.

The briefings provided to the Somali groups were so sensitive that in 14 instances the agency redacted portions of the records under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption (B)(7)(e), the law-enforcement “risk circumvention” exemption, which reads:

Exemption 7(E) of the Freedom of Information Act affords protection to all law enforcement information that would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.

In another instance, Customs and Border Protection exempted under (B)(7)(e) a portion of a February 16, 2016, “Minute by Minute Agenda” provided during a tour/briefing of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). The material that was withheld from Judicial Watch as too law-enforcement sensitive – but provided in full to the Somali group – included a section entitled: “TSA Overview — Processing [Redacted].”  The invitees were provided briefings of the Global Entry system, APC [Automated Passport Control] system, secondary screening procedures, baggage-screening procedures and given tours of the holding cells/interview rooms.

Notes from the February Minneapolis St. Paul Airport tour include: “Current CBP and TSA job vacancies were discussed. Attendees responded with requests for DHS outreach efforts during Somali community events to further advertise these positions to interested individuals.”

The newly released records also reveal:

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