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Leak re Obama’s Aunt Endangers Her and Her Family

By now, most people have heard about The Associated Press report that Sen. Barack Obama has a distant aunt –- his deceased father’s half-sister -– living in Boston who is an undocumented alien. They may also know that Zeituni Onyango, from Kenya, was denied political asylum by an immigration judge four years ago.

As Josh Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo reported Saturday, Rep John Conyers (D-Mich), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wrote an angry letter to Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security, saying the disclosure, by at least one “federal law enforcement official,” according to The AP, was “very disturbing” and warrants an investigation.

In fact, the disclosure wasn’t just disturbing –- it was either illegal, or it was approved directly by the U.S. attorney general. And, it endangered Onyango and any of her family that continue to live in Kenya.

According to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 8 CFR 208.6, it is illegal to disclose that a noncitizen has applied for political asylum, without her explicit consent “or at the discretion of the attorney general.”

The Supreme Court, in United States v. Ray, explained the reason: because the applicant or her family could be subject to retaliation in their home country.

As an immigration authority fact sheet, cited by the court, explains: “Public disclosure of asylum-related information may subject the claimant to retaliatory measures by government authorities or non-state actors in the event that the claimant is repatriated, or endanger the security of the claimant’s family members who may still be residing in the country of origin.”

According to Amnesty International, the last year in Kenya has seen a crisis of deadly political violence and grave human rights violations.

In other words, this leak wasn’t just a typical ugly attack against the Democratic presidential nominee — it may have been an unusually dangerous one.

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