The Honorable John Ashcroft
Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
I am writing to express my concern regarding the human rights abuses suffered by the individuals detained in the United States in connection with the investigations into the attacks of September 11, as documented in Human Rights Watch's report, "Presumption of Guilt: Human Rights Abuses of Post-September 11 Detainees."
I am deeply concerned that immigration charges were misused in order to circumvent legal restraints on the Department of Justice's power to detain and interrogate people. Human Rights Watch found that some post-September 11 detainees were held for prolonged periods of time without being charged, had their access to counsel impeded, were subjected to coercive interrogations, were incarcerated under restrictive conditions, including solitary confinement, and suffered physical and verbal abuse.
I urge you to ensure that the investigation and detention of persons suspected of having links to terrorism are conducted with full regard for the rights of all persons in the United States to be free of arbitrary detention, mistreatment in confinement, and violations of due process.
All Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detainees should be charged within forty-eight hours of arrest or released, and those INS detainees who are questioned about terrorism should be informed of their right to remain silent and have an attorney (court-appointed, if necessary) present. I also urge the INS to comply with all judicial orders to release detainees on bond, and end the practice of keeping persons in detention on immigration charges while law enforcement investigates them for criminal activity.
I am also troubled by the secrecy that surrounds the investigation. Secret arrests and secret hearings are incompatible with the core democratic values enshrined in the Constitution. I urge you to immediately release the names of all persons detained since September 11 in connection with the terrorism investigation and reverse the policy of secret hearings.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. I look forward to your response.