Haney, 66, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, alleged that the government shut down a surveillance program that could have prevented the 2015 Islamic terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California.
The Amador County Sheriff’s office confirmed to the Washington Examiner that they responded to reports on Feb. 21 of a male with a gunshot wound, about 40 miles east of Sacramento.
“At approximately 1012 hours, deputies and detectives responded to the area of Highway 124 and Highway 16 in Plymouth to the report of a male subject on the ground with a gunshot wound,” they said in a statement.
“Upon their arrival, they located and identified 66-year-old Philip Haney, who was deceased and appeared to have suffered a single self-inflicted gunshot wound. A firearm was located next to Haney and his vehicle. This investigation is active and ongoing. No further details will be released at this time.”
A statement from Frank Gaffney, the executive chairman of the Center for Security Policy, described Haney as “one of our most brilliant, most dedicated and most devout comrades-in-arms.”
“While the details are sketchy at the moment, Phil went missing on Wednesday in the area he called home in northern California to which he returned after the passing of his beloved wife, Francesca, following a long struggle with a series of terrible health afflictions. On Friday morning, a sheriff’s deputy finally found his body with a gunshot wound to the chest,” the statement read.
“As of now, we have no word about suspects or motives. It is hard to overstate the magnitude of this loss to the cause of freedom.”
In 2015, Haney told Fox News that the Obama administration had shut down a program Haney had been developing to probe a collection of global networks that were helping radical Islamists infiltrate the United States.
He focused mostly on identifying and tracking members of the al-Huda and Tablighi Jamaat groups, offshoots of the radical Deobandi school of Islam.
But a year after he started, Haney said he and the others involved in the program were visited by the State Department and the Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
The officials told him that the tracking was problematic because the organizations weren’t designated as terrorist ones, that tracking the persons related to them was a violation of their civil liberties, and subsequently shut the investigation down.
Sixty-seven of his records were deleted–including one into an organization that had ties to a mosque in Riverside, California, that Syed Farook, one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino attack, attended.
Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, targeted a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and Christmas party of about 80 employees in a rented banquet room, killing 14 people and seriously injuring 22 others.
Haney said at the time that if he had been allowed to continue the program, it could have thwarted the attack.
“Either Syed would have been put on the no-fly list because association with that mosque, and/or the K-1 visa that his wife was given, may have been denied because of his association with a known organization,” Haney said.
The DHS at the time said that Haney’s story had “many holes,” although a subsequent investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Following Haney’s death, Fox News contributor Sara Carter wrote on Twitter on Feb. 22 asking people to pray for his family.
“Somebody I deeply respected and considered a friend Phil Haney—a DHS whistleblower during the Obama Admin was apparently killed yesterday in Southern California,” Carter wrote.
“Pray for his family and pray they find the person who murdered him.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.