Senate Approves Michael Chertoff as New Homeland Security Secretary; ACLU Calls for Special Counsel to Investigate Torture Policies

February 15, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The Senate today confirmed Michael Chertoff — the force behind the detention of hundreds of Arab, South Asian and Muslim men after 9/11 — to be the new Secretary of Homeland Security . Chertoff played a role crafting the Bush Administration’s torture policies when he was with the Department of Justice, and the American Civil Liberties Union said his appointment highlights the need for an outside special counsel to investigate the scandal.

Earlier today, in its first official correspondence with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the ACLU asked that he appoint an outside special counsel to investigate and prosecute any criminal acts by civilians in the torture or abuse of detainees by the U.S. government.

“We are hopeful that as the head of the Homeland Security, Chertoff will commit himself and the Department to upholding the Bill of Rights as he seeks to protect the country,” said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU legislative counsel. “While his record may have some troubling points of concern, we look forward to finding common ground with the agency that impacts the lives of so many.”

The ACLU has issued previously a memorandum on Chertoff’s civil liberties record raising several troubling issues, and had called upon the Senate to fully examine his record.

“Chertoff has previously shown that he takes an extremely narrow view of what constitutes torture, a position that raises serious concerns about the nation’s top immigration official.” the ACLU’s Anders said. “His appointment also marks the second promotion of a top Bush administration official with ties to the torture scandal. It’s clear that Attorney General Gonzales must appoint an outside special counsel. Any civilians that engaged in misconduct must be held accountable.”

The ACLU’s memorandum on Chertoff’s civil liberties record can be read at:

The ACLU’s letter to Gonzales calling for a special counsel can be read at:

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