Chertoff’s Truth Problem

On 11/28/01, Bush’s new Homeland Security nominee, Michael Chertoff, testified before Congress. At the time, as assistant attorney general, he testified about the treatment of the hundreds of people rounded up after the 9/11 attacks. He said detainees were allowed to communicate with the outside world:

So nothing that we are doing differs from what we do in the ordinary case or what we did before September 11th. And importantly, nobody is held incommunicado. We don’t hold people in secret, you know, cut off from lawyers, cut off from the public, cut off from their family and friends. They have the right to communicate with the outside world. We don’t stop them from doing that.

According to the Department of Justice inspector general, that wasn’t true. A report released in April 2003 reveals that detainees were completely cut off from the outside world for weeks. The key line is on page 113:

John Vanyur, Senior Deputy Assistant Director in the BOP’s Correctional Programs Division, told the OIG that the detainees had no external contacts for the first few weeks after the terrorist attacks until the BOP received more information on the September 11 detainees being held in BOP facilities.