American still held in secret detention without charges

UPDATE to a story I posted April 4:

The American software engineer arrested in mid-March, and being held without any charges, remains in federal prison in Oregon.

But, in spite of moans from the softy liberals, it's really ok to round up citizens and hold them in secret detention as witnesses without any of the evidence needed to charge or prosecute them, according to the "Department of Justice."

Legal analysts at the Center for National Security Studies, a civil liberties group, said they feared that the government was using the material witness statute as a form of preventive detention to buy time while officials searched for evidence, a practice that is illegal in the United States. The material witness statute is normally used to detain witnesses deemed to be flight risks.

"Jailing people who are simply under investigation is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime," said Kate Martin, who runs the center in Washington.

Justice Department officials say their detention of material witnesses has been lawful, and critical to the battle against terrorism. "It is difficult for a person in jail or under detention to murder innocent people or to aid or abet in terrorism," Attorney General John Ashcroft said.

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of captivity.

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Published on April 22, 2003 12:53 AM.

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