Will Bunch on Bush's new Homeland Security Nominee:
The bad news is that while Chertoff may lack the whiff of sex scandal that would put the NY tabloids on the case, he's arguably a worse choice than Kerik. In the days after 9/11, Chertoff -- as head of the criminal division under John Ashcroft -- was architect of some of the most regrettable policies of Bush I. It was Chertoff, as assistant atttorney general overseeing the initial 9/11 probe, who OK'ed and then defended the detention of hundreds of "material witnesses" of Arab descent -- even though it would later be determined that none -- that's right, none -- of the detainees had anything to do with the terrorist attacks of 2001. Chartoff's actions during this period would later be roundly criticized in a report from the Justice Department's own Inspector General. It found that immigrants were rounded up in an "indiscriminate and haphazard manner," held for months while denied access to attorneys and sometimes mistreated behind bars. The report noted that Chertoff "urged immigration officials to 'hold these people until we find out what's going on,' despite the fact that many had been swept up and detained on minor immigration charges." Chertoff also push prosecutors and the FBI into greatly expanded use of domestic surveillance. In November 2002, according to this report, he "defended the need for government agencies to aggregate large amounts of personal information in computer databases for both law enforcement and national security purposes." What's more, Chertoff was responsible for the badly botched prosecution of al-Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, who has yet to be brought to any type of justice even though he was arrested three-and-a-half years ago. Under his leadership, the Justice Department pursued a theory that Moussaoui was "the 20th hijacker" -- despite zero evidence to support that claim. However, that argument has been used as an excuse to deny the American public from information that might prove what really happened to Flight 93 on 9/11.


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