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New Oversight Report Finds DHS Watchdog Overly Cozy With Officials, Altered Reports

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EDIT May 7, 2014: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard has asked DHS for a new report on Secure Communities: http://roybal-allard.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=379194

According to the Washington Post today, a Senate oversight report has found that the top watchdog for DHS to have compromised his role as an independent inspector general, getting close with department leaders and altering and delaying investigations at their request.

Charles K. Edwards, who served as acting DHS inspector general from 2011 through 2013, and was seeking Obama’s nomination to be the permanent inspector general, routinely shared drinks and dinner with DHS officials and gave them inside information on the timing and findings of investigations.  He improperly relied on advisers to then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and agreed to their suggestions on the wording and timing of three separate reports.

The Senate report is an alarming review of the cozy relationship between some DHS officials and the watchdog who was supposed to be independently overseeing them.  One of the reports that DHS officials asked Edwards to change was a March 2012 overview of ICE, that dealt with complaints that DHS had deliberately misled Congress and the public about Secure Communities, and whether local law enforcement was required to participate.  

Secure Communities was originally rolled out with the implication that it was voluntary; DHS officials later told localities that it was mandatory after some tried to opt out.  S-Comm’s practice of using local law enforcement officials to turn immigrants over to ICE, contributing to the deportations of many non-priority immigrants, has since led a number of states and cities to reject the program anyway.

The Senate report is the result of a year-long bipartisan investigation by an oversight panel of the Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee.  The Washington Post obtained an advance copy of the document, which will be released to the public Thursday.

Read more about the Senate report and Edwards’ oversight failure here.