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CBP - Internal Investigation of Facebook Groups - OverSight will see you now.

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Posted on August 01 2019

The lies. The lies. The lies.

 

Before we dive in to the recent push by the House OverSight & Reform Committee - I’d like to quickly draw your attention to the testimony “Acting” DHS Secretary McAleenan May 23, 2019 Senate Testimony versus his July 18, 2019 House Testimony. I do  not know what else to call McAleenan’s testimony other than blatant lies and one could make an incredibly strong argument that McAleenan has (repeatedly) run a foul of 18 U.S.C. §1001 - Making False Statements

 

 

 

May 23, 2019 Senate Testimony

This isn’t an opinion this is what the current “Acting” DHS Secretary told members of the Senate Committee. There are only two plausible scenarios;

1) McAleenan didn’t know - which would be an absolute dereliction of duty.

2) McAleenan did know and made a conscious decision to look these Senators in the eye and with minimal hesitation lied to them - you should also know that McAleenan has a law degree and his response (in the cspan clip below) is very “lawyerly” - particularly his reference to “civil rights” and his desire to “address that”. McAleenan earned his JD at the University of Chicago School of  Law.

 

“It’s a very rare situation and it’s got defined criteria that we've, by policy, mandated for our personnel in the field,...“I think there's an opportunity with our civil rights and civil liberties office to look across our department and see if we can ensure that we're doing it consistently for (Customs and Border Protection) and ICE, for instance, and that we're taking all steps to consider the care of the child, the mental concerns the child might have in that scenario and explain it effectively,”

 

 

July 18, 2019 House Testimony

 In this C-Span Clip Acting DHS Secretary essentially blames everyone else but his Agency. He testified to the “fact” the Flores Monitors mislead the public about the conditions and unhygienic squalor these unaccompanied minors are housed in. McAleenan went as far as to then lay a portion of the blame on the United States Coast Guard - little interesting tidbit unlike the rest of our Country’s Military the USCG rolls up to DHS versus DOD.

About two thirds of the way into McAleenan’s testimony he proffers (I believe for the first time) that illegal immigrants are :recycling children”  - which means he is “officially” stating that adults taken in to custody are repeatedly using children that are not theirs.  You can read McAleenan’s written testimony here.

As you know on April 10, 2019, President Trump named (yet another “Acting Secretary” - FVRA something something) Mr. McAleenan as his Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. If I’m counting correctly McAleenan is the 4th DHS Secretary (Elaine Duke, John Kelly, Kristjen Nielsen) after the forced resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Because Trump has allowed Stephen

Furthermore at the present time, Mr. McAleenan concurrently serves in two roles—CBP Commissioner and Acting DHS Secretary.

 

 

Cummings v McAleenan re Ms L case

 

 

This particular exchange is worth rewatching. For background on April 23, 2019 NBC News Anchor Lester Holt sat down with Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan (full Interview found here) for the record these are not my words - this is exactly what Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan told Lester Holt:

 

McAleenan said separating migrant families at the U.S. southern border is "not on the table," and the policy was "not worth it" from an enforcement perspective.

McAleenan told NBC News' Lester Holt on Tuesday, "We're not pursuing that approach."

 

 

You might ask: why does this matter? It matters because of the Ms L Class Action Case. A few days ago the ACLU filed this Motion I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the relevant sections of the recent filing:

 

...government is systematically separating large numbers of families based on minor criminal history, highly dubious allegations of unfitness, and errors in identifying bona fide parent-child relationships...

Plaintiffs ask the Court to provide further guidance on the permissible criteria to separate families based on criminal history or parental fitness, and to reaffirm the basic premise of this Court’s preliminary injunction: that children should not be taken from their parents absent a determination that the parent is genuinely unfit or presents a true danger based on objective facts.

 

In non-legalese in June of 2018 the Court unwittingly created a loophole that would give the Trump Administration room to exploit the loophole - where the Court allowed the Administration to separate children if there was a criminal record or if there was reasonable and credible concern that the parent(s) were a danger to their children and/or that the adult wasn’t the parent of said child(ren) - this resulted in 911 children being forcibly separated from their parents from June 2018 (after the Court’s preliminary injunction) to June 2019:

 

 

June 28, 2018, through June 29, 2019, Defendants have now separated more than 900 children—including numerous babies and toddlers—based on criminal history, Defendants’ unilateral, unsupported determination that the parent is unfit or a danger, or mistakes about the identity of the adult as the child’s parent.

 

 

House OverSight: Verify and then Trust

 

When you have an (Acting) Secretary that outright and repeatedly lies to lawmakers and to the American people - the inherent “trust” is all but obliterated. Meaning that after the ProPublica July 1, 2019 Investigative Report of a “secret” CBP Facebook Group. And then just a few days after the explosive July 1st ProPublica Report a second Facebook Group The Real CBP Nation discovered by CNN

 

Predictably the CBP issued the following statement:

“Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection was made aware of disturbing social media activity hosted on a private Facebook group that may include a number of CBP employees. CBP immediately informed DHS Office of the Inspector General and initiated an investigation. CBP employees are expected to adhere to CBP's Standards of Conduct,

Directive No. 51735-013A both on and off duty, which states, “Employees will not make abusive, derisive, profane, or harassing statements or gestures, or engage in any other conduct evidencing hatred or invidious prejudice to or about one person or group on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability. This includes comments and posts made on private social media sites.”

 

Statement attributed to U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost:

 

“These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out. Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”

 

On July 2, 2019 House OverSight Committee Chairman Cummings sent the following letter to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg  - in which the Chairman made numerous request for production of documents, post, user info and instructed Facebook to take all necessary steps to ensure the data is preserved. I personally found page 2 a worthwhile read - particularly the second paragraph 

Concurrently the House OverSight Committee sent letters to Acting DHS Secretary, letter found here here and the DHS Inspector General, found  hereThe deeper and more troubling problem is late last week CBP Chief Provost admitted she was part of the “I am 10-15” Facebook Group. She told lawmakers the following:

 

 

  “I am on Facebook very very rarely...I use it occasionally to speak with friends and family...and now & again to try and see how my workforce feels I am doing...let me be clear on July 1st is the first time I saw those highly offensive post and it’s absolutely unacceptable post...I then self reported myself to the [CBP] Office of Professional Responsibility and turned over my Facebook account to them...” 

 

 

It should not come as surprise that the House OverSight’s Investigation into the two CBP Facebook Groups is a very serious matter. That  DHS and their subordinate agencies can not stonewall, impede or obstruct this Congressional Investigation. As recently reported by CNN, they obtained a February 2018 CBP memo that addressed (albeit not by name) but affirmed the existence that Senior leadership within CBP were aware of the Facebook Group. According yesterday’s House OverSight Letter to CBP makes it clear that OverSight will continue irrespective of Trump’s tweets.

 

Moreover the House OverSight Committee Chairman is now seeking documents from CBP dating back to January 20, 2017. Specifically document production related to the “I’m 10-15” Facebook group, “The Real CBP Nation” Facebook groups. Chairman Cummings also requested “any similar Facebook groups identified by CBP as containing inappropriate posts by CBP employees.” Which should send you a clear signal that Facebook may have already provided information to the OverSight Committee concerning other CBP Facebook Groups that have yet to be publicly identified.  

On page 3 of the House OverSight Committee’s letter to CBP - we learn that on July 22, 2019 Chairman Cummings requests “an immediate” briefing from CBP’s Senior Management and yet it appears CBP ignored said Request. To  be fair it does appear that CBP identified 62 current CBP employees and placed them on  “on administrative duties” - but as the record shows Acting Secretary McAleenan has a pattern of behavior of lying to lawmakers, the media and to the American people.  Therefore rendering McAleenan’s “words” unreliable and likely not the truth.

To be fair the “culture” within CBP is one  of serious and systemic rot. I’m in no  way saying we should shutter ICE or CBP but what I am saying is CBP has been a problem Agency and has a long Document trail of some pretty horrific behavior. Case in point under the Obama Administration the ACLU in conjunction International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School authored a 50 page report, found here  Below are a few examples of the documented abuses include allegations that CBP officials:

 

Punched a child’s head three times, Kicked a child in the ribs. 

Used a stun gun on a boy, causing him to fall to the ground, shaking, with his eyes rolling back in his head

Ran over a 17-year-old with a patrol vehicle and then punched him several times

Verbally abused detained children, calling them dogs and “other ugly things”. Denied detained children permission to stand or move freely for days and threatened children who stood up with transfer to solitary confinement in a small, freezing room

Denied a pregnant minor medical attention when she reported pain, which preceded a stillbirth

Subjected a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they “forcefully spread her legs and touched her private parts so hard that she screamed

Left a 4-pound premature baby and her minor mother in an overcrowded and dirty cell full of sick people, against medical advice

Threw out a child’s birth certificate and threatened him with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.

 

You can read more in my May 2018 write up, I embedded the ACLU DropBox files which they obtained via numerous FOIA request and litigation. Below are a few examples of the documentary evidence the ACLU of San Diego obtained via numerous FOIA request. The link to the ACLU Dropbox, found here. The ACLU  organized each file and made it  searchable. Some of the documents make for a difficult read. And as previously stated these issues are wide spread. Previous Administrations have come up short in mandating actual change.

The aforementioned examples occurred during the Obama Administration and if you think for one Second CBP has improved their conduct under the Trump Administration then you really have not paid attention. Frankly it would not surprise me if Trump handed out bonuses or at  the minimum incentivized this type of atrocious and malignant behavior. The bottom line is CBP, USCIS, HHS-ORR under the “leadership” of Donald Trump have almost certainly accelerated their inhumane and cruel behaviors.  ‘

Accordingly some of you are aware of my personal dislike of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - setting aside my own bias - no one (irrespective of what political party you identify with) should ever be subject to “photoshopped images depicting my rape”  and yet McAleenan acknowledges the CBP Facebook engaged in such conduct, at no time did McAleenan sound contrite. 

 

 

Regardless of my own feelings (of which I’ve previously admitted tend to bias me) it should be noted that Rep AOC does in fact ask some important and uncomfortable questions. While I may disagree with her on various public policies I unequivocally respect her for this kind of questioning and unyielding determination to hold Acting Secretary McAleenan accountable for his CBP staff. 

 

 

Again I make no apology for my assertion that the “rot” in CBP is systemic and is likely worse under the “leadership” of the Trump Administration. I’m am confident that many share the frustration of current Senior Federal Employees, specifically Trump Cabinet Members outright lying to members of Congress. McAleenan already knows about the February 2018 internal CBP Memo. Perhaps the real question is: does he know about GEO Group memos and subsequent CBP memos, I am told there are at least three that span 2018 & 2019 - but one fact I can provide you is if you want to see what it looks like when a Government Agency stonewalls and capitulates - take a look at CBP’s June 2019 FOIA Report. This is not what transparency or Government Accountability looks like, at all. -SpicyFiles Out

 

 

 

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