Federal probe finds guards mistreated 911 detainees
Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)
Federal probe finds guards mistreated 9/11 detainees
Videotapes said to show abuses
By Dan Eggen, Washington Post, 12/19/2003
WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of videotapes that federal prison officials had claimed were destroyed show that foreign nationals held at a New York detention facility after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were victims of physical and verbal abuse by guards, the Justice Department's inspector general said yesterday.
An investigation by Inspector General Glenn Fine also found that officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, which is run by the US Bureau of Prisons, improperly taped meetings between detainees and their lawyers and used excessive strip searches and restraints to punish those in confinement. The report concluded that as many as 20 guards were involved in the abuse, which included slamming prisoners against walls and painfully twisting their arms and hands. Fine recommended discipline for 10 employees and counseling for two others who remain employed by the federal prison system. He also said the government should notify the employers of four former guards about their conduct.
"Some officers slammed and bounced detainees against the wall, twisted their arms and hands in painful ways, stepped on their leg restraint chains and punished them by keeping them restrained for long periods of time," the report said. "We determined that the way these MDC staff members handled some detainees was, in may respects, unprofessional, inappropriate, and in violation of BOP policy."
One focus of the report was an American flag T-shirt that hung from a wall at the detention center with the slogan, "These colors don't run." Four corrections employees told investigators that the shirt, which hung in a prisoner receiving area for months, was covered with bloodstains, including some that appeared to come from detainees slammed into the wall.
A report issued by Fine in June found "a pattern of physical and verbal abuse" at the Brooklyn detention facility's Special Housing Unit, where 84 of the men picked up after the Sept. 11 attacks were held. But investigators said at the time that firm conclusions were impossible in many cases because of the lack of videotapes, which prison administrators said at the time had been destroyed.
Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said yesterday that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and in the department's Civil Rights Division were reviewing the report to determine if criminal charges were warranted. The Justice Department had previously declined to pursue any prosecutions in the cases.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.