- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The government told a federal appeals court yesterday that releasing the names of hundreds of detainees in the terrorism investigation could help al Qaeda.
Gregory Katsas, deputy assistant attorney general, argued before a federal panel that releasing the names could provide terrorists with information they couldn't get elsewhere.
"This list of names will give al Qaeda clues as to how it is we seek out terrorists," Mr. Katsas told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. "It shows where we looked. That reveals a strategy."
Kate Martin, a lawyer for the Center for National Security Studies, one of 22 public interest groups seeking the names, said the United States should not be conducting secret arrests.
"This is the first time the United States government has secretly arrested and detained hundreds of people," Miss Martin said. "The concept of secret arrests is odious to a democratic society."
The government rounded up more than 1,200 people after the September 11 attacks, many of them on immigration charges and some believed to have information that would help the terrorism investigation. The government has refused to release the names of detainees or the charges they are being held on.
In August, Justice Department officials said fewer than 150 people remained in custody.
Several public interest groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the information. In August U.S. Circuit Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the government to release the names. Judge Kessler delayed enforcing her order to give the government time to appeal.
Since the terrorist attacks, the Bush administration has tried to hold several proceedings behind closed doors on grounds of national security, saying public hearings could let terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, blamed for the September 11 attacks, learn who the government has arrested and how it found them.
The government has a mixed record so far. In October a three-member panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that immigration hearings in New Jersey could be closed to the press and public.
But in August a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that the government could not hold secret deportation hearings in Michigan for a Lebanese man accused of funneling money to terrorists from a charitable foundation he founded.
In this case, Judge Kessler ruled in August that the government had not shown that releasing the names would hinder the investigation or help terrorists.
Appeals Court Judge David Sentelle asked Miss Martin whether releasing the names could aid terrorists. He suggested that al Qaeda could discern a pattern from the arrests.
"What would be sufficient for the government to show that a pattern of these arrests could be an intelligence source?" he asked.
Miss Martin said the Justice Department has released some details of the investigation and that the government needed to specifically show how publicizing the names would hurt the war on terrorism when this other information did not.
Appeals Judge David Tatel cited reports that some detainees were held without charges and could not hire lawyers.
Mr. Katsas said the people picked up were able to get legal representation.
"There are not allegations that people were locked up in dungeons and held incommunicado," he said.

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