NewsHour: Liberty vs.Security – September 10, 2002

JIM LEHRER: Margaret Warner talked with Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson last week, beginning with why so much of the legal proceedings have been conducted in secret.

LARRY THOMPSON: Nothing that we have been done has been enacted in secrecy. Every measure that we have undertaken is out in the open. Every measure that we have undertaken has had the sunlight of public attention. And almost all measures are not done unilaterally by members of the Department of Justice. These measures are subject to judicial review by judges and other judicial officers.

MARGARET WARNER: But let me just ask you for instance, the chief immigration judge, who just explained to our viewers also is part of the Department of Justice, Michael Creppi, issued an order saying, and I’ll just read it to you, that these hearings, these deportation hearings, were to be held in secret, "no visitors, no family, no press, not even confirming whether it’s on the docket."

LARRY THOMPSON: The only thing that has been secret, if you will, has been the list of the individuals and the actual hearing itself. But the fact that an individual was taken into custody, the fact that he or she was in a particular detention facility, that was open to the public, if you will, to their friends, to their relatives, they could make phone calls.

This was not done in the dark of night. People do not disappear in this country and we have really not done anything in secret, if you will. The actual administration of justice with respect to some of these cases was done, what we call in camera, because of national security and other concerns, and even that has been subject to judicial review, but nothing has been done in secret.