Justice Department Issues Review of Civil Liberties Abuses, ACLU Says Patriot Act Still Remains Shrouded in Secrecy

March 8, 2006 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON - In a semi-annual report to Congress mandated by the Patriot Act, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General today released a report outlining allegations of civil rights and civil liberties abuses by department personnel in a broad range of areas, including mistreatment of federal prisoners, misuse of surveillance powers, mistreatment of protesters at the 2004 political conventions, and misuse of the material witness statute.

The American Civil Liberties Union noted that most of these matters remained under investigation and welcomed the OIG’s scrutiny of them. However, the ACLU also expressed concerns over the continued secrecy of the use of Patriot Act powers that possibly prevented a more thorough review.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"Too many of the government’s powers are shrouded in secrecy to be confident this report presents a full picture of possible government abuses. An innocent American who may have had his or her home searched under a delayed notification ‘sneak and peek’ warrant, or had their medical records seized under Section 215 the Patriot Act, would never know that these awesome powers have been misused against them and therefore would not have any reason to report them to the Inspector General. This report should serve as a wake-up call to the Justice and Homeland Security Departments, agencies the report says have still failed to implement recommendations to protect against abuse of immigration detainees that occurred shortly after 9/11. That foot-dragging is not acceptable.

"The report also indicates the Inspector General believes his office does not have authority to review the warrantless surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency as authorized by President Bush. We believe the Inspector General has an important role to play in reviewing the NSA program and in determining whether the department or any of its agencies played any role in these illegal operations."

To read more about the ACLU’s concerns with the Patriot Act, go to:
http://www.reformthepatriotact.org

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the warrantless NSA spying program, go to:
/nsaspying

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