Could this be one of the things that got ol’ Clark Kent Ervin out of favor at the White House?
You may have heard of the case Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, who was born in 1970 and immigrated to Canada in 1987. In September 2002, during a stopover in New York while returning to Canada from a vacation in Tunisia, he was taken into custody by US Immigration officials who claimed he had ties to al Qaida.
Arar was subsequently deported to Syria. And, when he returned to Canada over a year later, he claimed to have been tortured while in Syrian custody.
In December 2003 Rep. John Conyers (D) of Michigan wrote the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security — that would be our Mr. Ervin — asking him to conduct a review into the circumstances under which INS deported Arar to Syria despite that fact that he was carrying a Canadian passport at the time of his detention.
But, according to a letter Ervin sent Conyers on July 14th, 2004, he wasn’t getting a lot of cooperation on his review.
(Before proceeding, it’s important to note that whether or not Arar is a bad guy is an entirely separate question from whether the statutorily-empowered Department IG can review what happened.)
Ervin began his letter by explaining various delays in the review because of his inability to see classified documents and because of various claims of privilege by DHS lawyers.
Then, in the final three grafs, Ervin describes how he had been prevented from interviewing past and present government officials involved in the case as well as being denied access to additional government documents because DHS lawyers were asserting various legal privileges, such as attorney-client privilege, among others.
Ervin found the assertions of privilege to be bogus (my words, not his) but had had “no success”, to use his words, in his efforts to get the access he felt he needed. Click here to see the passage from Ervin’s letter.
After reading the letter, my question is less why the guy got canned than how he ever got hired by these guys in the first place.
I hear Sen. Collins ain’t crazy about Ervin either, though the reasons I’ve heard for her disapproval seem debatable.