Pressed by ADC, US Army Concludes Special Agents Exceeded Authority at UT Austin
ADC Press Release:
Pressed by ADC, US Army Concludes Special Agents Exceeded Authority at UT Austin-
March 16, Washington, DC — Army intelligence has determined that its special agents acted improperly by questioning attendees of a Feb. 4 University of Texas at Austin Law School conference entitled, “Islam and the Law: The Question of Sexism.” On Feb. 13, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) sent a letter to the Army Office of Public Affairs expressing concern about and requesting an investigation of the incident.
According to law students who contacted ADC, the Army initially explained their actions by saying that two Army personnel attended the conference and reported “being approached by three Middle Eastern men who asked questions that were ‘suspicious in nature.'” ADC advised the Army that the personnel who attended the conference were in civilian attire, did not identify themselves as representing the Army during the event, and did not express any concern or report any of their alleged suspccions to the conference organizers, UT Austin or civilian law enforcement. Further, ADC expressed grave concern about the logic underlying these alleged suspicions.
Moreover, according to the law students who contacted ADC, Army special agents subsequently demanded a list of conference attendees and questioned several law students who reported feeling intimidated and unnerved by the questioning. ADC inquired how the Army could possibly consider such questioning appropriate given that the event was a civilian and public one held in an academic environment and addressing a legal and academic topic.
On Wednesday March 10, ADC attended a federal interagency meeting coordinated by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Prior to the meeting, ADC requested that the Army send a representative to address this issue. The Army representative at the meeting confirmed that the Army was aware of ADC’s letter and that the Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) had initiated an investigation into the incident.
INSCOM has now announced that it has concluded its investigation, finding that “the special agents and their detachment commander exceeded their authority by requesting information about individuals who were not within the Army’s counterintelligence investigative jurisdiction.” The Army further announced that in order “to prevent this from happening again, INSCOM has provided refresher training on the limits of Army counterintelligence investigative jurisdiction to all counterintelligence personnel performing duties in the United States.”
ADC welcomes the positive response of the US Army with regard to this incident and hopes that the steps taken will ensure that such excesses are not repeated in the future.