Thank Lawmakers for Urging Ashcroft to End Secret Detentions - ADC

Thank Lawmakers for Urging Ashcroft to End Secret Detentions

Thank Lawmakers for Urging Ashcroft to End Secret Detentions

  • June 26, 2003
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ADC urges all of its members and supporters to contact the senators and members of Congress who wrote on June 23 to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging him to release the names of post 9/11 detainees. The full text of their letter is reproduced at the end of this email. 19 civil rights organizations including ADC, in the case of Center for National Security Studies, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, have been attempting to secure a ruling compelling the government to release the names of the detainees. On August 2, 2002, a federal District Court Judge ordered the government to release the names but stayed implementation of her ruling pending government appeals. Last week, an appellate court overturned that ruling and found that the government does not have to release the names of detainees. These members of Congress wrote to convince the Attorney General to release the names even though an appellate court recently ruled that the law does not compel the government to do so, arguing persuasively that secrecy invites abuse.
You can contact these principled senators and representatives though these email addresses and websites:
Russell D. Feingold
U.S. SENATOR
http://feingold.senate.gov
Edward M. Kennedy
U.S. SENATOR
http://kennedy.senate.gov
Richard J. Durbin
U.S. SENATOR
dick@durbin.senate.gov
Jeff Bingaman
U.S. SENATOR
senator_bingaman@bingaman.senate.gov
Jon S. Corzine
U.S. SENATOR
http://corzine.senate.gov
John Conyers, Jr.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
john.conyers@mail.house.gov
Robert C. Scott
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
bobby.scott@mail.house.gov
James P. McGovern
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
www.house.gov/mcgovern
Jerrold Nadler
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
jerrold.nadler@mail.house.gov
ADC also urges its members and supporters to contact their senators and representative to request that they also contact the Attorney General asking for a release of detainees’ names if they have not done so already. ADC has provided sample texts below, although an original letter always carries more weight. You can send a message directly to your Senators and Representative through ADC’s website at: http://capwiz.com/adc/home/
ADC also urges everyone to read the extraordinarily thoughtful and courageous letter sent by Senator Russell Feingold to Attorney General Ashcroft outlining the questions that Senator Feingold intended to ask him at a congressional hearing at which neither the Attorney General nor any of his representatives agreed to be present. You can read Senator Feingold’s letter online at https://www.adc.org/index.php?id=1896
SAMPLE LETTER OF THANKS:
Dear ____,
I write to express my deep appreciation for your letter of June 24, 2003, to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging him to release the names of the detainees arrested in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on our country of September 11, 2001. As you know, 19 civil rights organizations, in the case of Center for National Security Studies, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, have been attempting to secure a ruling compelling the government to release the names of the detainees. I am extremely grateful for your efforts to convince the Attorney General to release the names even though an appellate court recently ruled that the law is not compel the government to do so.
As your letter rightly points out, there have been numerous abuses and injustices associated with these secret detentions, as outlined in the report by the Office of the Inspector General as well as reports by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Human Rights Watch and other civil rights groups. Secrecy invites abuse, and our American legal system is predicated on the understanding that transparency is an indispensable element in the pursuit of justice. The secret nature of these detentions, not to mention deportation hearings and actual deportations, facilitated those abuses. Secret detentions simply have no place in our system of justice, including our immigration law enforcement processes. Thank you again for your principled and courageous leadership in the struggle to maintain traditional American values of openness and transparency in our legal system.
Sincerely,
SAMPLE LETTER URGING LAWMAKERS TO JOIN CALL TO END SECRET DETENTIONS:
Dear _____,
I write to urging the follow the example of the senators and representatives who signed a letter dated June 24, 2003, to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging him to release the names of the detainees arrested in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on our country of September 11, 2001. 19 civil rights organizations, in the case of Center for National Security Studies, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, have been attempting to secure a ruling compelling the government to release the names of the detainees. Your colleagues made an extremely compelling case that the Attorney General should release the names even though an appellate court recently ruled that the law does not compel the government to do so.
There have been numerous abuses and injustices associated with these secret detentions, as outlined in the report by the Office of the Inspector General as well as reports by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Human Rights Watch and other civil rights groups. Secrecy invites abuse, and our American legal system is predicated on the understanding that transparency is an indispensable element in the pursuit of justice. The secret nature of these detentions, not to mention deportation hearings and actual deportations, facilitated those abuses. Secret detentions simply have no place in our system of justice, including our immigration law enforcement processes.
Again, I strongly urge you to join your colleagues in the struggle to maintain traditional American values of openness and transparency in our legal system, and write to the Attorney General asking him to lift the veil of secrecy which has been cast over so many detentions in recent months. Sincerely,
FULL TEXT OF CONGRESSIONAL LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL:
June 23, 2003
The Honorable John D. Ashcroft Attorney General of the United States U.S. Department of Justice
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
We write to urge you and the U.S. Department of Justice to release the names of individuals detained in connection with the September 11 investigation. While, according to a recent court decision, Center for National Security Studies, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, Nos. 02-5254 & 02-5300, slip op. (D.C. Cir. June 17, 2003), releasing the identities of the detainees is not required by law, that decision will be appealed, and we believe that releasing their names would be in the best interests of justice and open and accountable government.
The recent report of the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (IG) demonstrated the need for transparency and the consequences of excessive secrecy. The IG found that the Department labeled hundreds of individuals held on immigration violations as suspected terrorists after September 11 and held them for months, even though not one was ever charged with any terrorism-related offense. The IG also found that the Department failed to protect the constitutional rights of those detained on immigration charges. Throughout the report, senior Justice Department officials express regret about not learning of problems earlier. Had the names been made public, perhaps many of the abuses could have been avoided, as free and open debate would have brought them to the attention of the Department. Instead, it took months for officials to become aware of unnecessarily severe detention conditions, delays in clearance resulting in long periods of detention without bond, withholding of removal of individuals who had voluntarily agreed to be deported or were under a deportation order, physical and verbal mistreatment, and other issues involving due process, access to counsel, and constitutional rights and protections. The very secrecy that the court found permissible allowed the abuses criticized by the IG to continue for many months, despite congressional efforts to discover and stop them. Congress and the American people should be able to judge whether the Department’s conduct after September 11 was proper and effective, but this will be very difficult if the names of those who were detained and may have suffered violations of their rights are kept secret.
Our view continues to be that, with only a few narrow exceptions, secret arrests and detentions are inconsistent with a free, democratic society and the rule of law. We urge you to release the names of the detainees without further delay.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,
Russell D. Feingold
U.S. SENATOR
Edward M. Kennedy
U.S. SENATOR
Richard J. Durbin
U.S. SENATOR
Jeff Bingaman
U.S. SENATOR
Jon S. Corzine
U.S. SENATOR
John Conyers, Jr.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
Robert C. Scott
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
James P. McGovern
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
Jerrold Nadler
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE

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