Top officials charged with violating constitution with 9/11 detainee abuse
Under policy implemented by former attorney general John Ashcroft and other Justice Department officials, detainees were held and abused for months.THE GUARDIAN
A US appeals court on Wednesday reinstated a claim against former attorney general John Ashcroft and other Justice Department officials, stemming from the abuse of Arab and Muslim men and others detained for months in New York and New Jersey after the September 11 attacks. The unusual decision cleared the way for once-anonymous plaintiffs to advance charges that the top officials in the Justice Department had violated their constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law. The suit seeks class-action status for all detainees similarly abused.
A lower court had found that Ashcroft and his co-defendants, former FBI director Robert Mueller and former INS commissioner James Ziglar, had not been sufficiently linked to the abuse of detainees to support the plaintiffs’ claims.
In its reversal of that decision, the US court of appeals for the second circuit asserted that the justice department officials had put policies into place that were conducive to the abuse, that they knew the abuse was happening and that they knew the detainees weren’t terrorism suspects.
“It might well be that national security concerns motivated the defendants to take action, but that is of little solace to those who felt the brunt of that decision,” the court wrote. “The suffering endured by those who were imprisoned merely because they were caught up in the hysteria of the days immediately following 9/11 is not without a remedy.”