ADC Welcomes Ruling that Government Must Release Names of Detainees
WASHINGTON, DC – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today warmly welcomed the ruling by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler that the government must release the names of detainees arrested following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The judge’s ruling allowed for two exceptions: first, on a case-by-case basis the government may ask a judge to suppress the identity of detainees, but only if they are being held as a material witness, and second if the detainee requests it. The ruling came in a case brought by ADC, the ACLU and a number of other organizations after the government refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for the names presented last October.
ADC President Ziad Asali said, “We are gratified that Judge Kessler has issued this ruling, which upholds the principle that the American system of justice is based on openness. Secret detentions and secret hearings are, as another federal district court judge observed, repugnant to democracy. We urge the Attorney General to comply with this ruling and release the names of the detainees. We are not asking for sensitive or classified information, just what the public has a right to know.
Finally, I think it is important to bear in mind that almost all of these detainees have not been accused by the government of involvement in terrorism or even having any information about terrorist groups. Most of them are simply Arabs and/or Muslims who are out of immigration status, in many cases in very trivial ways.”
ADC expressed the hope that this ruling will be the first of many by which judges restore balance to the American justice system. A series of new laws, policies and practices initiated after the Sept. 11 attacks included some measures, such as secret detentions and secret hearings, that are antithetical to American legal traditions and values and which do not contribute to national security in a meaningful way.
Read the full ruling in PDF format