The Guardian August 7, 2002

Bush appointee favors concentration camps

by Joel Wendland

A statement released by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee 
(ADC) on July 22 called for removal of Peter Kirsanow, a Bush appointee to 
the US Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR).

Kirsanow, speaking during a USCCR hearing in Detroit on July 19, raised the 
possibility of internment camps for the mass detention of Arab Americans. 
According to the ADC statement, "Kirsanow did not condemn this idea, but 
raised it as a serious and reasonable possibility in the event of future 
terrorist attacks against the United States."

Kirsanow blatantly remarked, "if future terrorists come from the same 
ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Centre, you can forget about 
civil rights."

It seemed clear that Kirsanow was condoning the internment of Arab 
Americans in a manner similar to Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants 
during World War II.

At the hearing, when Arab Americans testified to increased racial profiling 
and secret immigration hearings that violated their civil rights, Kirsanow 
was unmoved, arguing that Arab and Muslim Americans should accept the 
country's new anti-terrorism laws and complain less about infringements to 
their civil rights.

Another Bush appointee to the USCCR, Jennifer Braceras, according to one 
report, retorted that no one has a "constitutional protection against being 
inconvenienced or embarrassed."

Critics of the Bush administration say that Braceras and Kirsanow were 
appointed specifically to weaken the USCCR and use it against anti-
discrimination struggles.

In a joint letter to Bush, the ADC and the Leadership Conference on Civil 
Rights asked Bush to remove Kirsanow from his post on the Commission.

The ADC letter argued that collective blame for the acts of individuals is 
"unacceptable and un-American". The letter continued, "It is in the spirit 
of these vital moral principles that we ask that [Bush] repudiate and 
disavow the remarks made by Peter Kirsanow ... and take steps to remove him 
from this important position."

The ADC commented further that while all Americans favour keeping the 
country safe, "an individual with such views [as Kirsanow's] has no place 
on the United States Commission on Civil Rights." ADC considers Kirsanow's 
statements to be a "blot" on the Bush presidency and "an unfortunate 
distraction from our nation's united fight against terrorism."

ADC urged its supporters to call or write the White House to ask that 
Kirsanow be removed from his position on the USCCR ([202] 456-1111 or

* * *
The author can be reached at People's Weekly World paper of Communist Party USA

Back to index page