(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/6/17) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on all Americans to urge members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to use the opportunity of a confirmation hearing next Wednesday to question Christopher A. Wray — President Trump’s nominee to be FBI director — about his past unconstitutional ordering of a communications blackout on the mass detention of hundreds of immigrants following the 9/11 terror attacks.
[NOTE: CAIR does not support or oppose Wray’s nomination to FBI director.]
That blackout prevented detainees from contacting family members and legal counsel for weeks following their detention.
CAIR is also urging committee members to question Wray about his apparently misleading testimony provided to the committee in 2004 about the extent of his, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ), awareness of torture occurring at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Backgrounder on the Unconstitutional “Communications Blackout” of September 11 Detainees
According to the DOJ Office of the Inspector General’s report “The September 11 Detainees,” as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, Wray directed the “communications blackout” of the DOJ, FBI and INS’s much-criticized detention of 762 of out of status Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants, who were arrested as persons of interest in the terrorist attacks. CAIR notes that the vast majority of these immigrants were found to have no such ties to terrorism.
Following the mass detention of these immigrants, Wray directed the U.S. Bureau of Prisons not to “be in a hurry” to provide detainees with access to communications. This unconstitutional order resulted in many detainees not being able to notify their families of their arrest or communicate with an attorney for periods ranging from, “8 to 10 days,” “the first few weeks,” or “until mid-October 2001,” according to the report.
Many of the leads that resulted in the detention of these immigrants were based on discriminatory religious and ethnic profiling and were meritless suspicion.
The report notes that many “leads that resulted in an alien’s arrest on immigration charges were quite general in nature, such as a landlord reporting suspicious activity by an Arab tenant.”
The report also found that “the FBI and INS in New York City did little to distinguish the aliens arrested as the subjects of leads or where there was evidence of ties to terrorism from those encountered coincidentally to such leads with no indication of any ties to terrorism.”
Lee Gelernt, who heads the ACLU’s Program on Access to the Courts told the Daily Beast that, “The government repeatedly told the courts in the aftermath of September 11 that it was not necessary to provide public access to the detainees because the detainees had full access to the outside world” but “That turned out to be false, as the Justice Department’s own internal investigation revealed.”
The many of those detained at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center were held in “23-hours-a-day solitary confinement” and endured “strip searches, sleep deprivation, beatings and other abuses and denied the ability to practice their religion,” according to a lawsuit on behalf of those detained.
Connection to Bush-Era Torture Programs
According to the Miami Herald, as assistant attorney general in charge of the Criminal Division, Wray was “notified early about the ongoing Central Intelligence Agency investigation of abuse at Abu Ghraib. Notably, he was alerted to the suspected homicide of a captive who came to be known as the iceman because of lurid, leaked photos showing the corpse of Manadel al-Jamadi packed in ice.”
While Wray was notified of al-Jamadi’s suspected homicide in a February 2004 CIA memo titled “Possible Violations of Federal Law” that addressed “possible violations of federal criminal law” – in May 2004, Wray testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that his “principal awareness of the abuse” was “through the news media.”
During that hearing, Wray made no attempt to mention the CIA memo when asked by the Committee’s Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), “What actions has the Department of Justice taken with respect to investigating and possibly prosecuting criminal conduct by American civilians at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq or at any of the other places where the administration has evidence, and the administration does have evidence, of other torture that has not been made public yet? What actions have you taken?”
Wray’s lack of transparency during the hearing prompted Leahy to write a letter to then Attorney General Ashcroft complaining that Wray providing him a “less than a complete and truthful answer,” personally noting that “I am concerned about this” below his signature.
CAIR recently launched an app to share critical ‘know your rights’ information and simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents AND is urging Muslims to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.
For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here: http://www.cair.com/app
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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