ACLU Leadership Meets With Justice Department Inspector General To Inquire About Long-Overdue Report on Detainee Abuses

May 9, 2003 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Seeking answers as to why the Justice Department is sitting on a high-profile report containing details about potential abuses of the detainees held after 9/11, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union and its chief lobbyist today met with the cabinet department’s Inspector General.

“”In July of last year, the Justice Department promised Congress that it would issue its report on the detainees before the end of the year. We have yet to see anything,”” said Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “”In these difficult times, we must now more than ever insure that the government’s independent watchdogs play their full role of reporting to the oversight arms of Congress and the American public.””

“”Democracies, based on the rule of law, can only maintain themselves through the public airing of official mistakes,”” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “”If the detainee situation resulted from a series of major errors by the Justice Department, both our safety and our freedoms are diminished by keeping these abuses of power a secret. We strongly believe that the Attorney General must not attempt to hide any Justice Department mistakes under a pretext of national security.””

Both Romero and Murphy met with Glenn Fine, head of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the independent internal affairs-style unit responsible for investigating potential abuses of power and then relaying these findings to Congress.

The report in question is the culmination of an investigation initiated by the OIG of the Justice Department into the treatment of the hundreds of mostly Arab and Muslim men held — often without charge or on minor immigration violations — directly after the 9/11 attacks.

Strangely, the report has also been “”close to completion”” for almost a year now. On July 15, 2002, the OIG indicated that it was wrapping up a draft of the report. Seven months passed before the OIG released this statement in January 2003: “”the OIG is close to completing the draft of its report describing the results of this review. The OIG intends to issue a public report describing its findings soon.””

Specifically, the report is expected to include, among other things, the investigation’s findings on whether the length of detention was excessive; on why the Justice Department sought to deny bond for all the 9/11 detainees; on conditions of confinement, including allegations of physical and verbal abuse by guards and federal officials, and on whether detainees had adequate access to health care and legal counsel.

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