The ACLU scored a big win today in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case is al-Kidd v. Ashcroft. The upshot is that the court again rejected personal immunity for former Attorney General John Ashcroft over his post 9/11 policy of arresting and detaining people as material witnesses when there was no evidence those arrested were either involved in criminal activity or a flight risk. Today's decision, denying an en banc rehearing of the court's September decision, is here (pdf.)
In September, the 9th Circuit ruled that the federal material witness law cannot be used to detain or investigate suspects where no probable cause exists for criminal charges. The ruling also held that Ashcroft does not have immunity in this case and can be held personally liable for the wrongful detention of al-Kidd. [More...]
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This is really a big deal. A three judge panel in the 9th Circuit has ruled Abdullah al-Kidd, an American who converted to Islam during college, was illegally detained by the Bush Administration under the material witness statute, and can seek damages personally from former Attorney General John Ashcroft. The opinion is here (pdf).
“We find this to be repugnant to the Constitution, and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history,” said the opinion, written by Judge Milan D. Smith Jr.
al-Kidd was represented by the ACLU, which has released this statement: [More...]
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