The Department of Homeland Security removed the names of nearly 1,000 individuals suspected of terrorism ties from the U.S. terrorist watch list, according to newly released documents obtained by an advocacy group under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Washington Free Beacon first reported in 2014 that the Obama administration secretly assembled a terrorist "hands off" list that enabled individuals with terrorist ties unfettered entrance into the United States.
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The latest documents, obtained by Judicial Watch and released on Tuesday, appear to confirm these initial reports. They further disclose that at least 1,000 names were scrubbed from the U.S. Terrorist Screening Database as part of an administration effort to protect the civil rights of suspected individuals.
"The documents appear to confirm charges that Obama administration changes created a massive ‘hands off’ list," Judicial Watch said in a statement. "Removed data from the terrorist watch list could have helped prevent the San Bernardino terrorist attack."
Lawmakers disclosed in 2014 that the administration has secretly assembled a terrorist "hands off" list that facilitated travel to the United States for those one flagged as a potential terror threat. Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon at the time disclosed that at least one individual, a Canadian Islamist leader tied to Hamas and Hezbollah, had been put on the list.
"These new documents bolster allegations that the Obama administration may have removed information from a terrorist watch list that could have prevented the San Bernardino terrorist attack," Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement. "Philip Haney risked his career to blow the whistle on how the Obama administration created a ‘hands off" list of over 1,000 foreign nationals with potential terrorist ties. And, once again, it was a Judicial Watch lawsuit—and not Congress or the media—that uncovered the key information about this national security scandal."