Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, June 17, 2003  

Well, this is bad:

A federal appeals court, reversing a lower-court decision, ruled today that the government did not have to disclose the names of more than 700 people detained in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, agreeing with the Justice Department that making that information public could "allow Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups to map the course of the investigation."

The 2-to-1 decision by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was a rebuff to the civil liberties and other groups that were challenging the Bush administration's refusal to provide the names and other information about people, mostly immigrants, held in connection with the 9/11 terrorism investigation, on the ground of national security.

The court said the government could withhold the dates and locations of arrest, detention and release of all detainees, including those charged with federal crimes, and the names of lawyers representing them.

It's weird, too, because I was just compiling information on John Ashcroft for the Dossiers Project when I stumbled across it. In fact, some of the stuff I was compiling related directly to this issue.

As if it's not obvious enough--the packing-the-courts agenda is really paying off. At one time, we all had some confidence in the courts as impartial arbiters of the law. Now it just seems like the different guys from the same country club solidifying an extremely conservative agenda. So now: the executive branch has discretion over the creation or implementation of law (which is the Congressional branch's duty)--it was Ashcroft who initially told his department to start rejecting FOIA requests; then the judges, who were put in place by the President, agree that he has this authority. Viola!--there's your trifecta.

The article continues, quoting Ashcroft:

Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement on the Justice Department's Web site, "We are pleased the court agreed we should not give terrorists a virtual road map to our investigation that could allow terrorists to chart a potentially deadly detour around our efforts."

The President of the People for the American Way, one of the members of the coalition who brought the lawsuit, called it a "stunning rollback of rights in America." He continues:

“We’re very disappointed with this decision. We’ve said again and again that the American people have a right to know what the government is doing in their name. Instead, this ruling gives amazing deference to the Justice Department, and cripples the critical role of oversight in protecting rights in America.

“This ruling allows the Department of Justice to bury these secret arrests even deeper. Now the public is denied access even to the names of attorneys representing detainees. There is no way abuses — like those chronicled in the report by the Justice Department inspector general — can be fully investigated and exposed if every aspect of these arrests is kept in the dark. This ruling could be complicit in a stunning rollback of rights in America. Indeed, this ruling takes us closer to authorizing the government to use secret arrests and detentions on a broad range of criminal suspects — or just outspoken critics. The repercussions could be disastrous.”

Hide the kiddies, moms, especially if they aren't white . . . .

posted by Jeff | 4:11 PM |
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