In early October, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG), an internal watchdog, completed an extensive report on the implementation of President Trump's original travel ban, Executive Order 13769, which in late January caught customs agents by surprise and led to people getting trapped at airports. But in a letter to lawmakers Monday, the OIG accused DHS leadership of intentionally delaying release of the report for more than six weeks, perhaps because the Trump administration insisted the travel ban rollout was "a massive success story ... on every single level."
As the OIG letter explains, DHS officials have indicated they may invoke "deliberative process privilege," an unusual response to this sort of report that would permit the agency to keep the document private. This is a troubling prospect, the letter says, because it "can mask discovery of decisions made based on illegitimate considerations, or evidence of outright misconduct." If DHS does invoke this privilege, it would "significantly hamper" the DHS watchdog's ability to keep Congress well-informed about the department's aims and activities.