Supreme Court rejects case on secret arrests

More damage to civil and legal rights. But in this age of abdication of responsibility - when Congress refuses to do its job and happily gives away its war-making powers to the president - it isn't too suprising that the Supreme Court has followed suit.
The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the Bush administration to keep secret the names of hundreds of people questioned and detained since the September 11 attacks.

Without comment, the top court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by civil liberties and other groups challenging the secret arrests and detentions, which they said violated the Freedom of Information Act and constitutional free-speech rights under the First Amendment.

The justices let stand a U.S. appeals court ruling that disclosing the names could harm national security and help "al Qaeda in plotting future terrorist attacks or intimidating witnesses in the present investigation."

Attorneys for the groups challenging the government's policy said the appeals court erred in failing to recognise the First Amendment prohibits secret arrests, except in the most compelling circumstances.

They said the appeals court gave unprecedented deference to government explanations that were "unpersuasive on their face, overly broad and without any support in the record."

The attorneys said the Supreme Court should review the case.

"Such review would serve to assure that the government is not merely avoiding scrutiny of a discriminatory overreaction to the September 11 attack and to deter future deprivations of civil liberties," they said.

The Justice Department, urging the high court to reject the appeal, said it was entitled to an exception that allows information to be withheld for law enforcement investigations.

Department lawyers said disclosure of the list of people interviewed and detained would provide terrorists with "a road map" of the investigation.
Perhaps I'm being dense, but I have to say that I don't get the DoJ's point here. If any of the people detained were terrorists in the Al Qaeda Network, wouldn't it have already found out somehow that its operatives had been detained and/or questioned? Through family members? Friends and acquaintances? The fact that they hadn't gotten in touch for a long time with whoever handles communications for the Al Qaeda Network these days?

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