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American Muslim

High Court won't review secret deportation hearings

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected, on May 27, 2003, a challenge to the federal government's policy of holding secret immigration hearings of people detained after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The justices declined to review a U.S. appeals court ruling that news media and public access to the deportation proceedings could endanger national security. Without any comment, the high court refused to hear an appeal by New Jersey newspapers arguing the government may not keep the proceedings secret without a specific, case-by-case showing that closing the hearing would be necessary.

The secret hearings were among the tactics the Bush administration adopted after the hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A directive 10 days after the attacks ordered immigration judges to close hearings for detainees whose cases the U.S. Justice Department deemed were of ``special interest'' to the government's terrorism investigation.

During the government's investigation, approximately 766 detainees were designated as 'special interest' cases, 611 of whom had one or more hearings closed, department lawyers said. (New York Times - May 27, 2003)