Post-9/11 cases fuel criticism for nominee
The 21-year-old Jordanian immigrant was in shackles when he was brought into the courtroom of Judge Michael B. Mukasey in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
It was Oct. 2, 2001, and the prisoner, Osama Awadallah, then a college student in San Diego with no criminal record, was one of dozens of Arab men detained around the country in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks as potential witnesses in the terrorism investigation.
Before the hearing, Mr. Awadallah told his lawyer that he had been beaten in the federal detention center in Manhattan, producing bruises that were hidden beneath his orange prison jumpsuit. But when his lawyer told this to Judge Mukasey, the judge seemed little concerned.
“As far as the claim that he was beaten, I will tell you that he looks fine to me,” said Judge Mukasey, who was nominated by President Bush last week to be his third attorney general and is now facing Senate confirmation hearings. “You want to have him examined, you can make an application. If you want to file a lawsuit, you can file a civil lawsuit.”
Even though Mr. Awadallah was not charged at the time with any crime and had friends and family in San Diego who would vouch that he had no terrorist ties, Judge Mukasey ordered that he be held indefinitely, a ruling he made in the cases of several other so-called material witnesses in the Sept. 11 investigations. A prison medical examination later identified the bruises across his body. [complete article]