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  Appeals court rules against Ashcroft in 9/11 case
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Contributorparticleman 
Last Editedparticleman  Sep 04, 2009 07:12pm
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CategoryLegal Ruling
News DateSaturday, September 5, 2009 01:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionBOISE, Idaho — A federal appeals court delivered a stinging rebuke Friday to the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 detention policies, ruling that former Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held liable for people who were wrongfully detained as material witnesses after 9/11.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the government's improper use of material witnesses after Sept. 11 was "repugnant to the Constitution and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history."

The court found that a man who was detained as a witness in a federal terrorism case can sue Ashcroft for allegedly violating his constitutional rights. Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen and former University of Idaho student, filed the lawsuit against Ashcroft and other officials in 2005, claiming his civil rights were violated when he was detained as a material witness for two weeks in 2003.

al-Kidd said the investigation and detention not only caused him to lose a scholarship to study in Saudi Arabia, but cost him employment opportunities and caused his marriage to fall apart.

He argued that his detention exemplified an illegal government policy created by Ashcroft to arrest and detain people — particularly Muslim men and those of Arab decent — as material witnesses if the government suspected them of a crime but had no evidence to charge them.

Ashcroft had asked the judge to dismiss the matter, saying that because his position at the Department of Justice was prosecutorial he was entitled to absolute immunity from the lawsuit.

Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller would only say Friday that the agency is reviewing the opinion.
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