Michael Chertoff, President Bush's nominee to be secretary of homeland security, is widely hailed for his intellectual heft and tireless work habits as a federal prosecutor and judge. But he also faces criticism as an architect of some of the most controversial elements of the Bush administration's domestic war on terrorism that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.I mean, afterall, I'm in favor of the Secretary of DHS being oppossed to civil rights. That's what America stands for, isn't it?
As an assistant attorney general in the months after the attacks, Chertoff helped oversee the detention of 762 foreign nationals for immigration violations; none of them was charged with terrorism-related crimes. A subsequent report by the Justice Department's inspector general determined that Justice's "no bond" policy for the detainees -- a tactic whose legality was questioned at the time by immigration officials -- led to lengthy delays in releasing them from prison, where some faced "a pattern of physical and verbal abuse."
In the chaotic weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, fearful that other terrorist "sleepers" might mount new attacks, ordered the detention of hundreds of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian men who had committed even minor immigration violations. He named Chertoff, as head of the criminal division, to lead the effort.Sounds like just the sort of leader I want to work for. And here's to hoping that after posting this entry, I still have the chance... ;-)
Civil liberties groups soon denounced the policy, which caused the men to be held incommunicado for weeks at a time. Detainees were held an average of three months before being cleared of suspicion and released. Administration officials acknowledged later that the FBI at the time was so overwhelmed with terrorism investigations that many of the detainees languished in jail before agents cleared their names....
The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that Chertoff should be grilled by senators about his enforcement of the USA Patriot Act and other counterterrorism initiatives the group has condemned. "We are troubled that his public record suggests he sees the Bill of Rights as an obstacle to national security," the ACLU said.