Why is the Obama State Department worried about the privacy rights of this Islamic jihadist who has repeatedly inspired and masterminded plots to kill large numbers of Americans? “State Department: Don’t Invade Privacy of Cleric on CIA Kill List,” by Catherine Herridge for FoxNews, August 26 (thanks to all who sent this in):
While the New Mexico-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, is the first American on the CIA’s kill or capture list, the U.S. State Department refuses to release documents about al-Awlaki citing his right to privacy. This disconnect was uncovered as part of the ongoing investigation by Fox News’ Specials Unit into the cleric who is a leader of a major Al Qaeda affiliate.
Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in March 2010, Fox News requested “….any and all records maintained by the United States Department of State, in the passport file….” for the cleric. Initially, the request was referred to Human Resources at the State Department, before a formal response was issued more than a year later, in August 2011. The letter reads in part :
“The Department of State, Passport Services has reviewed your request and has given full consideration to the reasons provided. However, we have determined that your request must be denied. This denial is pursuant to subsection (b)(6) of the Freedom of Information Act. The release of this information to you would be an invasion of personal privacy of another person, without written authorization from that person.”
The government refused to release the records for the terror leader who is well known to be the first American that the U.S. government has green-lighted to be killed or captured.
After 9/11, Anwar Al-Awlaki was a tier one, priority target for the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in San Diego because of his known contacts with the hijackers. A State Department agent assigned to the JTTF, Ray Fournier, put together an arrest warrant for passport fraud in 2002. As part of that fraud, al-Awlaki lied on his Social Security application claiming he was born in Yemen, not New Mexico. At the time, there was not enough firm evidence to link the cleric to 9/11, so the passport fraud case was seen as a holding charge.
In addition, as Fox News was first to report in its special “The American Terrorist,” the cleric fraudulently obtained $20,000 in scholarship money to fund his college education in Colorado. Al-Awlaki, who is a dual U.S./Yemeni national, claimed to be a foreign student. As an American citizen, the cleric was not entitled to the scholarship paid for by the U.S. taxpayer. According to the agent who handled the case, the documents still exist and are held by the State Department.
The denial of State Department documents is part of an ongoing pattern. In 2010, through the Freedom of Information Act, Fox News sought an FBI intelligence report, also known as an EC, that was written about the cleric and his radical ties two days before the cleric mysteriously entered the U.S. in October 2002 and the arrest warrant for passport fraud was pulled by the Justice Department. When the 27 page EC was produced by the FBI, all of the pages were redacted, citing national security and an executive order — most likely, the warrantless wiretapping program.
Both the Justice Department and FBI have refused Fox News’ requests and resisted calls from Congress to explain why the cleric was able to slip through the grasp of federal agents just one year after the 9/11 attacks. On Oct. 10, 2002, Al-Awlaki was held by Customs agents at JFK International airport for three hours until an FBI agent, Wade Ammerman, ordered the cleric’s release, even though there was an active warrant for al-Awlaki’s arrest on passport fraud….