9/11 act

This new legislation severely curtailed civil rights and liberties. The detainees at

Guantanamo Bay is only the most prominent example of the administration’s regulatory

Practices and new policies during its “war on terrorism.” The detainees are not officially

On U.S. territory and the government argues that they therefore have neither constitutional rights nor the rights guaranteed under the Geneva Convention, the international treaty governing detention during wartime. Basic principles like due process, political freedom, and the rule of law were successfully circumvented under the new legislation. The Due Process Clause applies to all “persons” within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent. Yet, Section 412 of the USA PATRIOT Act exposes immigrants to extended, and, in some cases, indefinite, detention based on the attorney general’s untested certification that he has “reasonable grounds to believe” that a no citizen is engaged in terrorist activities (Cole 2002:12). Proponents of the new legislation argued repeatedly that these restrictions will facilitate the prevention of new terrorist attacks. Careful observers, however, have claimed that the efficacy of these restrictions has been overstated. More than 1,500 people have been arrested since September 11 in the continuing investigation of that day’s crimes. Not one of them has been charged with any involvement in the crimes under investigation. Instead many of them, while initially withheld from legal council, are being held on immigration charges.

While the detainees were frequently portrayed as possible “sleeper” terrorists by the mainstream media, little was known initially about the actual treatment and accusations. For months the administration blocked access to the detainees and efforts to ascertain the conditions of their treatment. Only at the end of January 2002 did the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) finally announce that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (AI) would be allowed access to some detention facilities (Cusac2002). Others remained off-limits to monitoring groups. Since January a few reports about the actual conditions of the detainees have been published in the left-wing press.

Drawing on interviews with detainees and their lawyers, AI sent Attorney General John

Ashcroft a document concerning the detentions in the post-September 11 investigations.

AI stated “that many of those detained during the ?11 September sweeps’ are held in harsh conditions, some of which may violate international standards for humane treatment.” (Cited in Cusec 2002: 25). Moreover, the document points toward “allegations of physical and verbal abuse of detainees by guards, and failure to protect detainees from

abuses by other inmates” (cited in Cusac 2002: 25). A number of the detainees’ lawyers

reported that the detainees suffered some grave human rights violations. Some were held

for months in solitary confinement. Others suffered physical and psychological torture,

such as having been beaten by INS guards, kept in cold cells and refused further blankets,

received no halal food (which conforms to specific dietary laws) or toilet paper for

weeks. One detainee died on a heart attack while imprisoned (Cusac 2002: 25). Initially

arrested as suspects connected to the September 11 attacks and later transferred to the INS

and charged with visa violations, at the point of this writing, about 300 people are still in

Literature Cited:

Bach, Amy. 2002 “Vigilante Justice.” The Nation (June 3):18

Benjamin, Walter. 1969 Illuminations. (New York: Schocken)

Behdad, Ali. 1997 “Nationalism and Immigration to the United States.” Diaspora 6 (no. 2): 155-178.

Bennett, David. 1988 The Party of Fear: From Nativist Movements to the New Right in American History.

Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Bhabha, Homi. 1986 “The Other Question.” In Francis Barker, et al. (eds.), Literature, Politics and Theory:

Papers from the Essex Conference 1976-84. London: Methuen.

Bush, George W. 2002 “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People.” Washington,

D.C. (September 20): downloaded from: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-

8.html on July 1, 2002

Caruso, David. 2002 “FBI Agents Raid Immigrants’ Stores.” The Washington Post ( July 9) downloaded

from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42205-2002Jul9.html on July 12, 2002

Cole, David. 2002 “Operation Enduring Liberty.” The Nation (June 3):12.

Cusac, Anne-Marie. 2002 “Ill-Treatment on Our Shores.” The Progressive (March): 24-28.

Daniels, Roger. 1962 Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese Movement in California and the Struggle

for Japanese Exclusion. Berkeley: University of California Press.

___________. 1972 Concentration Camps USA: Japanese Americans in World War II. New York: Hold,

Rinehart, and Winston.

Douglas, Susan. 2001 “The Media Fall in Line.” The Progressive (November): 24

Featherstone, Liza. 2002 “Fighting the War at Home.” The Nation (April 1): 27-30

Freeman, Joshua et al. 1992 Who Built America? Working People and the Nation’s Economy, Politics, Culture,

and Society. New York: Pantheon Books.

Grant, Madison and Chas Stewart Davidson (eds.). 1928 The Founders of the Republic on Immigration,

Naturalization and Aliens. New York: Scribner’s.

Higham, John. 1955 Strangers in the Land: Pattern of American Nativism 1860-1925. New Brunswick, NJ:

Rutgers University Press.

Hofstadter, Richard. 1973 America at 1750. New York: Vintage Books.

Horowitz, Donald, and Gerard Noiriel (eds.). 1992 Immigrants in Two Democracies: French and American

Experience. New York: New York University Press.

Hull, Elizabeth. 1985 Without Justice for All: The Constitutional Rights of Aliens. Westport, CT.: Greenwood.

Kohn, Hans. 1957 American Nationalism: An Interpretative Essay. New York: Macmillan.

Kristof, Nicholas. 2002 “Bigotry in Islam–And Here.” New York Times (July 9) downloaded from:

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/09/opinion/09KRIS.html on July 12, 2002.

Lacey, Marc. 1996 “Toned Down Bill on Immigration Passes House.” Los Angeles Times (September 29):


Mann, Arthur. 1979 The One and The Many: Reflections on the American Identity. Chicago: University of

Chicago Press.

Mark, Diane Mai Lin, and Ginger Chih. 1982 A Place Called Chinese America. San Francisco: The Organization

of Chinese Americans.

McDonnell, Patrick. 1994 “Proposition 187 turns up heat in US immigration debate.” Los Angeles Times

(August 10)

McWilliams, Carey. 1944 Prejudice: Japanese-American Symbols of Racial Intolerance. Boston: Little,


Miller, Martin. 1994 “Proposition 187: fund-raiser by supporters draws 100 in Orange County.” Los Angeles

Times (October 29): A24

Nichols, John. 2001 “The Lone Dissenter.” The Progressive (November): 28-29.


Reimers, David. 1992 Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America. New York: Columbia

University Press.

Simon, Rita. 1985 Public Opinion and the Immigrant: Print Media Coverage 1880-1980. Lexington, MA:


Telhami, Shibley. 2002 “Arab and Muslim America: A Snapshot.” In Allan Cigler (ed.), Perspectives on

Terrorism: How 9/11 Changed U.S. Politics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company 2002: 12-16.

Tindall, George Brown, and David Emroy Shi. 1988 America: A Narrative History. Vol. 2 New York:

W.W. Norton &Company.

Weber, Cynthia. 2002 “Flying Planes Can be Dangerous” unpublished paper presented at the Annual ISA

Meeting in New Orleans (March 27).

Share the joy