October 29, 2001
Melanie Ann Pustay, Deputy Director
Office of Information and Privacy
Department of Justice
Suite 570, Flag Building
Washington, DC 20530-0001
We hereby request disclosure of the following information concerning the individuals “arrested or detained” in the words of Attorney General Ashcroft, in the wake of the September 11 attack and referred to by the President, the Attorney General and the FBI Director in various public statements.
1. The identities of each such individual, the circumstances of their detention or arrest, and any charges brought against them. In particular, please provide: (1) their names and citizenship status; (2) the location where each individual was arrested or detained initially and the location where they are currently held; (3) the dates they were detained or arrested, the dates any charges were filed, and the dates they were released, if they have been released; and (4) the nature of any criminal or immigration charges filed against them or other basis for detaining them, including material witness warrants and the disposition of any such charges or warrants.
2. The identity of any lawyers representing any of these individuals, including their names and addresses.
3. The identities of any courts, which have been requested to enter orders sealing any proceedings in connection with any of these individuals, any such orders which have been entered, and the legal authorities that the government has relied upon in seeking any such secrecy orders.
4. All policy directives or guidance issued to officials about making public statements or disclosures about these individuals or about the sealing of judicial or immigration proceedings.
Much, if not all, of this information is contained in public records to which there is a constitutional and common law right of access. In addition, please release documents containing this information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.
We do not believe that any of the requested information is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. We do not believe that the requested information – who has been arrested, the names of their lawyers or what charges have been filed — properly could be classified for national security reasons and withheld on that ground. Nevertheless, to the extent that any of this information is marked classified, we request that you delete or redact such information and immediately provide us the remaining information. If you believe the identities of any of the detainees should be withheld on privacy grounds, please immediately provide information concerning whether the individual has requested that his or her name be withheld, and the legal basis for withholding the names of persons detained or arrested. In this connection, we note that there is an overriding public interest in knowing the activities of the government in detaining people in connection with the September 11 attack, as reflected in the statements by the highest government officials and that the identities of some of them have already been made known.