Critics argue that Michael Chertoff, President Bush’s nominee to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was not candid with U.S. senators in 2001 when he discussed tactics he pursued as assistant U.S. Attorney General in charge of the criminal division, the Washington Post reports. The Justice Department detained more than 700 Arab and South Asian men for immigration violations, holding them without charges or access to lawyers for an average of three months. Many remained in prison much longer, said the department’s inspector general.
“Muslim men were rounded up and blocked from getting lawyers, and essentially Chertoff’s testimony to the Senate was a coverup,” said Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. At a Senate hearing on his nomination tomorrow, Democrats are expected to question Chertoff’s decision to order the detention of immigrants — not one of whom was charged with a terrorism-related crime. A number of these immigrants were beaten and humiliated by prison officers. They also are expected to scrutinize Chertoff’s role in crafting the USA Patriot Act. The Post profiles Chertoff, noting that he is skilled in the politics of Washington.