Anonymous Detentions Ruled Legal
On June 17 a panel of the US Court of Appeals in Washington ruled 2 to 1 to allow the Justice Department to keep secret the names of hundreds of foreigners detained--sometimes for months--by federal authorities after the September 11 attacks. Last August a federal judge ruled in favor of a Freedom of Information lawsuit requesting the names, filed by the Center for National Security Studies, The Nation and other public interest groups. And in early June the Justice Department's Inspector General released a highly critical report noting that the detentions had been plagued with "significant problems," including possible abuse of the detainees. The appeals court majority, however, said that federal judges should defer to the Administration's argument that revealing the detainees' identities might compromise national security. In a blistering dissent, Judge David Tatel wrote, "Just as the government has a compelling interest in ensuring citizens' safety, so do citizens have a compelling interest in ensuring that their government does not...abuse one of its most awesome powers, the power to arrest and jail." The Center plans to pursue the case.