FBI told to leave Arab-Americans alone WAR IN THE GULF

January 24, 1991|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Several House Democrats demanded yesterday that the FBI curb interviews with hundreds of Arab-American civic, political and business leaders who have been questioned in an information-gathering operation aimed at deterring terrorism.

"In cost-benefit returns, the confusion, anger and distrust these interviews have generated far outweighs what must be very small results, if any," said Representative Don Edwards of California, who is chairman of the subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights of the Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Edwards said at a news conference that if the bureau did not change its tactics, he would hold hearings on the question.

The FBI had no response yesterday. Previously, bureau officials defended the interviews as a justifiable part of a domestic security program mounted in response to the war.

Mr. Edwards and the other members of Congress were joined by several civil liberties groups, as well as Jewish, Arab-American and Japanese-American organizations.

Among the groups present were the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and the Japanese American Citizens League.

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