First, Start By Checking their Mail

The government has told us that in order to surveil terrorists it has to infringe upon our fourth amendment rights to be free from "searches" without a prior court order. It has told us that it needs to torture-- I mean, use "alternate procedures" upon-- terror detainees in order to glean information from them. It has refused to allow certain other terrorism suspects to have any due process access to an attorney because that attorney's visit, alone, might interrupt vital interrogation techniques. It has, in short, asked us to make legal sacrifices large and small in the fight against terrorism. So the least it could do, you might think, is figure out a way to open and read the mail of terror suspects currently in prison right here in America.

That's right. According to this report by the Office of Inspector General, the Justice Department has "not effectively monitored the mail of terrorist and other high-risk inmates." Mail monitoring by the Bureau of Prisons (overseen by the Justice department) is deficient in several ways, the IG report concludes. The BOP "does not read all the mail for terrorist and other high-risk inmates on its mail monitoring lists, does not have enough proficient translators to translate inmate mail written in foreign languages, and does not have sufficient staff trained in intelligence techniques to evaluate whether terrorists' communications contain suspicious content," according to the report.

"Similarly," the report continues "we found that the BOP is unable to effectively monitor high-risk inmates' verbal communications, which include telephone calls, visits with family and friends, and cellblock conversations. In addition, the Department does not require a review of all international terrorist inmates to identify those who should be subjected to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), the most restrictive conditions that can be placed on an inmate's communications.... However, the Director and BOP managers stated that the BOP cannot fully implement the planned initiatives because of budget constraints and an increasing inmate population. Consequently, the threat remains that terrorist and other high-risk inmates can use mail and verbal communications to conduct terrorist or criminal activities while incarcerated."

So there you have it. The government that has taken our rights away in the name of fighting terrorism-- in large part based upon the argument that it deserves to be trusted to do it right-- can't even figure out a way to check the mail of known and convicted terrorists. Think about that the next time you hear a Justice Department official looks you in the eye and says a detainee deserves no due process rights.

By Andrew Cohen |  October 4, 2006; 7:00 AM ET
Previous: Gitmo Lawsuits: The Next Generation | Next: St. Antonin the Rude


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I'm independent person and voter as most people I come in contact with who feel the same way.As we all know Mark Foley done a most terrible thing when he took away the trust of the people whom thought he was a good person and honest.But the people aren't stupid as the dem's think,because what he did wrong dosen't mean all other's in his party are no good and tried to cover up the terrible incident.If my brother commited a terrible act does that mean I'm no good also; of course NOT.Polition's try to mask a situation so people will vote their way and because they have no answer's to thing's that have to be corrected.Such as IRAQ WHICH WE ALL WANT TO SEE FINISHED SO WE CAN GET OUR PEOPLE BACK HOME.I don't see the logic .Let's all get together and try to fix what's wrong and stop playing game's with our problem's.Our Country need's better than that.

Thank You

Posted by: george m | October 4, 2006 08:03 PM


The Republicans are not interested in governing. They are interested in getting elected. Governing means allocating money to do things like reading prisoner mail. That is boring. But high-tech monitoring of "conversations with terrorists" to "keep America safe" well, that can win votes.

Posted by: MC | October 5, 2006 01:23 PM


I would to have someone ask the Bush administration the following question: Was the insurgency in Iraq inevtable?

If Bush answers, "No" then I'd like to ask why it happened.

If Bush answers "Yes" then I'd like to ask what strategy was in place for the occupation.

Based upon Thomas Rick's book, the Bush team has no viable position on these questions. Due to complete incompetence of the administration, we destroyed any chance of being treated as liberators due to our strong-armed tactics with dealing with the Iraqis, and then had no strategy on how to rebuild Iraq post Saddam.

It is unfathomable to me how the Republican party is perceived as the party to protect Americans after the failure of Bush's foreign policy.

Long live camp shel haverim.

Posted by: Randall Sylvan | October 9, 2006 01:44 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company