Arab-Americans Meet with Attorney General, Voice Concerns about Airline
ADC Press Release:
Arab-Americans Meet with Attorney General, Voice Concerns about Airline Profiling, Secret Evidence Washington D.C., Dec 9 — A delegation of Arab-Americans, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation‘s largest Arab-American grassroots organization, met today in Detroit with Attorney General Janet Reno to discuss the issues of airport profiling and the use of secret evidence against Arab-Americans. Also attending the meeting were members of the Michigan delegation in Congress including Senators Spencer Abraham and Carl Levin, Representatives John Conyers, David Bonior, and Sander Levin, and representatives from other congressional offices. The local Michigan U.S. District Attorney, INS District Director and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were also present.
The Justice Department agreed that the flood of complaints, many of them received, complied and submitted to the Department by ADC, regarding abusive and humiliating incidents of airline profiling against Arab-Americans, American Muslims, and those with visas to and from Middle Eastern nations is a cause of serious concern. The Justice Department has earmarked funds for a project to measure the discriminatory effects and disparate impact on Arab-American travelers produced by the FAA mandated profiles, and ADC will be working closely with the Department to develop strategies and criteria for such monitoring programs.
On the issue of secret evidence, under which about 20 persons, almost all of Arab origin, are currently being held in jail without charge, the Attorney General said that secret evidence has no place in the American justice system and offends our notions of proper law enforcement. She said that she was working towards establishing new procedures for classifying evidence. She agreed that further safeguards were needed to ensure that the use of secret evidence is not abused and that only highly sensitive and significant evidence should be classified. While ADC and many others argue strongly for the abolition of the practice altogether, the Attorney General said that she was committed to creating new safeguards to prevent further abuses of secret evidence. While ADC is gratified by the meeting and welcomes these commitments by the Justice Department, ADC President Hala Maksoud made a passionate appeal directly to the Attorney General to drop deportation proceedings against the “LA8.” Since 1987, the Justice Department has been attempting to deport seven Palestinians and a Kenyan on the basis of their political beliefs and First Amendment activities in favor of Palestinian human rights. The attempt to deport these individuals has been reviewed and rejected on the merits by no less than 9 judges.