Washington, DC, December 5--Today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) joined 18 other civil and human rights organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for National Security Studies, the American Immigration Law Foundation, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch, the Arab-American Institute (AAI), and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) among other organizations in a lawsuit against the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting disclosure of information about the thousands of individuals arrested and detained since the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11th. Since Sept. 11, hundreds of people, mostly from Middle Eastern descent, have been detained and the lack of information about the arrests and detentions has raised concerns of constitutional violations among many civil rights groups.
The action filed today in federal district court in Washington, DC, under the Freedom of Information Act , 5 U.S.C. Section 552, seeks immediate disclosure of government documents concerning those detained. On October 29, the plaintiffs filed a formal request with the Department of Justice, including the FBI and the INS, requesting disclosure of detainee information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The plaintiffs requested that the DOJ release the identity of the detainees, where they are being held, the circumstances of their detention or arrest, the identity of the lawyers representing them, how long they are being detained, information on secrecy orders, along with other pertinent information. To date, the DOJ has not provided a substantive response to the request.
Although the has government released some information on the detainees, the information provided has been incomplete and does not satisfy the FOIA request. While the lawsuit does not question the importance of, and absolute need for, the government's investigation, it does request that the government reveal information that is traditionally available to the public to ensure that the government's actions are consistent with due process and other constitutional rights.