'Enemy Combatants' and 18 U.S.C. 4001(a)

The legislative history concluded: "The Committee believes that imprisonment or other detention of citizens should be limited to situations in which a statutory authorization, an Act of Congress, exists. This will assure that no detention camps can be established without at least the acquiescence of the Congress."

One Democratic staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee said section 4001 was one of the reasons they had believed legislation authorizing military tribunals was warranted. But lacking sufficient support in the Congress as well as the White House — now they're just hoping the courts will weigh in.

A Look at Detainee Treatment

Last fall when Congress passed the Patriot Act that in so many ways increased the powers and authority of Justice employees, concern was expressed about possible abuse.

So section 1001 of the Act specifically provided that the inspector general of the Justice Department would examine any "complaints alleging abuses of civil rights and civil liberties by employees and officials" of Justice.

The first report on such complaints, covering the period from Oct. 26 through June 15, was submitted this past week. Here's the breakdown:

Complaints suggesting Patriot Act-related civil rights or civil liberties connections: 458

Complaints within jurisdiction of IG: 87

Complaints outside inspector general's jurisdiction: 196

"Unrelated" complaints: 175

Types of Complaints:

Excessive force

Illegal detention

Detainee held without access to attorney

Detention under adverse conditions (such as: lights on constantly; no reading material; only permitted out of cell for brief periods once a day; toilet doesn't work properly, etc.)

From October through June, the inspector general opened just nine investigations. For example:

An alien originally arrested at a Jacksonville, Fla., airport on Sept. 14 complained he was physically assaulted at an INS facility. Inspector general's investigation still ongoing.

An individual detained post-9/11 alleged he was repeatedly slammed against a wall by federal corrections officers; he alleged the same officers also injured three other detainees. The inspector general's ongoing investigation has identified the officers, interviewed the victims, and examined their medical records.

On Sept. 26 an FBI agent and a New Jersey sheriff's deputy "were pursuing a lead in an attempt to question a suspected terrorist." They were accused of using unnecessary force and illegally entering a residence. There was no evidence developed about the agent, however, and the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey declined to prosecute the deputy sheriff.

A complaint out of El Paso, Texas, alleged an alien was severely beaten, placed in solitary, and denied medical treatment when he refused to eat pork. But the inspector general determined the alien had been violent and uncooperative and the INS officers acted appropriately.

The inspector general is also conducting an in-depth assessment of Justice's treatment of detainees at two facilities — the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey.

The two facilities were specifically selected because they locked up a large percentage of the post-9/11 detainees — and also produced a large number of complaints.

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