- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General has received 7,000 complaints of civil rights violations by federal officials, but only one investigation pertains to how the FBI has used the Patriot Act.

The Patriot Act directs the inspector general to review all complaints of civil rights or civil liberties violations by Justice Department employees.

Of the complaints received from October 2001 to December 2004, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said nearly 4,000 did not warrant investigation and that more than 2,000 complaints were against agencies outside the Justice Department. Fewer than 1,000 fell within Justice’s jurisdiction, but were mostly managerial.

The IG’s office is investigating 30 complaints, including the FBI’s mishandling of fingerprints in the case of Brandon Mayfield, a Portland, Ore., lawyer who was arrested as a suspect in the March 2004 Madrid train bombing.

?As a result of the misidentification, the FBI initiated an investigation of Mayfield that resulted in his arrest as a material witness and his detention for approximately two weeks,? Mr. Fine said.

The office is investigating how wiretaps were used and into ?any use or implication of the Patriot Act,? Mr. Fine told the House Judiciary crime, terrorism and homeland security subcommittee yesterday during a hearing on Patriot Act provisions.

Some accusations of civil rights abuse by Justice Department employees have been substantiated, but Mr. Fine declined to give the numbers, instead citing a few examples of abuse.

Several examples involved the treatment of Muslim inmates at federal prisons. However, one investigation involving the FBI ?raised First Amendment concerns,? he said.

An e-mail was sent to FBI field offices with the names and addresses of customers and proprietors of a Muslim-based Web site ?and stated that the field offices should take whatever action they deemed appropriate,? Mr. Fine said.

Similar instructions given in the future will be subject to legal review.

In a separate incident, an immigration official queried an immigration data bank to see if an Arab-American gas station attendant who refused to give him paper towels was a legal immigrant.

The IG also is reviewing interrogation techniques used on detainees at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other military prison facilities.

?Investigators have reviewed thousands of pages of documents from the FBI and the Department of Defense? and traveled to Guantanamo Bay to interview detainees, Mr. Fine said.

Mr. Fine said his office is not investigating reports that interrogations were staged for members of Congress touring the facilities at Guantanamo Bay; however, several members of the panel urged that he review the reports.

?I hope you would thoroughly investigate if the Congress of the United States is being misled. It’s important that we know,? said Rep. Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts Democrat.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide