Tuesday, September 12, 2006

ICE Criticized Over Internal Corruption

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has failed to root out internal corruption because it does not reliably track cases, decide them quickly or set uniform punishments, according to a inspector general's report made public yesterday.

ICE has no coherent system to promptly and fairly oversee allegations of bribery, smuggling, falsification, sexual harassment or mismanagement against agents, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general reported.

From January 2003 to August 2005, agency supervisors failed to take disciplinary action in 147 of 246 cases when allegations were substantiated by investigators, the report said. More than 60 cases lingered for a year or more, some for as long as four years, it added.

ICE relies on five different sets of penalties for workers, the report said, "resulting in the perception that a 'good old boys' network still existed where certain infractions were simply made to go away."

Agency officials agreed to centralize case management, decide cases more quickly, standardize penalties, and provide more notice when investigations are completed and disciplinary actions are taken.

U.S. Argues for Trial Of Citizen in Iraq

Government lawyers said that U.S. courts have no authority to stop the military from transferring an American citizen to an Iraqi court to face charges that he supported terrorists and insurgents.

The military says Shawqi Omar, a citizen of both Jordan and the United States who once served in the Minnesota National Guard, was harboring insurgents and had bombmaking materials at the time of his arrest in Iraq in 2004.

The military wants to transfer him from Camp Bucca, a prison in southern Iraq, to an Iraqi court. A judge blocked that transfer in February.

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, government lawyers said American courts do not have jurisdiction because Omar is being held by a multinational force, not the U.S. military. The three judges hearing the appeal expressed skepticism.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services

© 2006 The Washington Post Company