to seek denial of bond until such time as they were "cleared" of terrorist con-
nections by the FBI and other agencies; and ordered the identity of the
detainees kept secret. INS attorneys charged with prosecuting the immigration
violations had trouble getting information about the detainees and any terror-
ist connections; in the chaos after the attacks, it was very difficult to reach law
enforcement officials, who were following up on other leads. The clearance
process approved by the Justice Department was time-consuming, lasting an
average of about 80 days.
We have assessed this effort to detain aliens of "special interest." The
detainees were lawfully held on immigration charges. Records indicate that 531
were deported, 162 were released on bond, 24 received some kind of immi-
gration benefits, 12 had their proceedings terminated, and 8--one of whom
was Moussaoui--were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
The inspector general of the Justice Department found significant problems in
the way the 9/11 detainees were treated.
In response to a request about the
counterterrorism benefits of the 9/11 detainee program, the Justice Depart-
ment cited six individuals on the special interest detainee list, noting that two
(including Moussaoui) were linked directly to a terrorist organization and that
it had obtained new leads helpful to the investigation of the 9/11 terrorist
A senior al Qaeda detainee has stated that U.S. government efforts
after the 9/11 attacks to monitor the American homeland, including review of
Muslims' immigration files and deportation of nonpermanent residents, forced
al Qaeda to operate less freely in the United States.
The government's ability to collect intelligence inside the United States, and
the sharing of such information between the intelligence and law enforcement
communities, was not a priority before 9/11. Guidelines on this subject issued
in August 2001 by Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson essentially reca-
pitulated prior guidance. However, the attacks of 9/11 changed everything. Less
than one week after September 11, an early version of what was to become the
Patriot Act (officially, the USA PATRIOT Act) began to take shape.
tral provision of the proposal was the removal of "the wall" on information
sharing between the intelligence and law enforcement communities (discussed
in chapter 3). Ashcroft told us he was determined to take every conceivable
action, within the limits of the Constitution, to identify potential terrorists and
deter additional attacks.
The administration developed a proposal that even-
tually passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into
law on October 26.
THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT
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