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Court Rules Ashcroft Could Be Held Liable For Illegal Detentions

A federal appeals court in Boise, Idaho has handed down a decison that says Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held liable for the wrongul detention of people who were  held as material witnesses after 9/11.

The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals said there is a plausible suggestion that Ashcroft used material witness laws to hold people for future inviestigation.

Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote in the ruling:

“Sadly, even now, more than 217 years after the ratification of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, some confidently assert that the government has the power to arrest and detain or restrict American citizens for months on end, in sometimes primitive conditions, not because there is evidence that they have committed a crime, but merely because the government wishes to investigate them for possible wrongdoing, or to prevent them from having contact with others in the outside world.  We find this to be repugnant to the Constitution and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history.”

The case surrounds Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen who who says his civil rights were violated when he was detained as a material witness for two weeks — simply because he was Muslim.


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