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Judicial Watch: U.S. Customs, Homeland Security Records Reveal Somalis Given Security Briefings, 'Community Engagement Tours' in Secured Areas at Major U.S. Airports
Somalis Given Access to Sensitive Information

Contact: Jill Farrell, Judicial Watch, 202-646-5188

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- 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 of 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:
  • In addition to the Minneapolis Airport tours/briefings given to Somalis during 2014 and 2015 – and first revealed by Judicial Watch in August 2016 – tours of U.S. airports and security briefings also have been provided to other groups at airports in Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio: "Once we agree on the dates we will select the time based on prayer schedules. Another idea could be the roundtable to take place at the airport after the tour. We have done that before in LA and Columbus and it worked well both times." 
  • The timing of the Minneapolis Airport tour given to a group of Somalis in February 2016 was scheduled between 6-8pm because it would "accommodate prayer times well." 
  • During the "annual" tour, federal authorities granted excursions of the facility's "secure areas." It is also noted that two parties in the previous year "did not pass vetting."

MORE: www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-u-s-customs-homeland-security-records-reveal-somalis-given-security-briefings-community-engagement-tours-secured-areas-major-u-s-airports