Top Bush officials can be sued for 9/11 abuse

The court's verdict has put the roles of ex Attorney-General Ashcroft, ex FBI director Mueller and ex immigration Commissioner Ziglar post 9/11 under scrutiny

Top Bush officials can be sued for 9/11 abuse

World Bulletin / News Desk

A U.S. court has reinstated a claim against top former security officials, originating from their roles in abusing and religious profiling of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians post 9/11 at immigration centers across the country.    

In January 2013, a lower court had dismissed claims that there was enough evidence to link abuse of detainees during the post 9/11 hysteria to top U.S. officials under the then U.S. President George W. Bush, including former Attorney-General John Ashcroft, former FBI director Robert Mueller and former United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Commissioner James Ziglar.  

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed the earlier court’s decision and ruled that the former top security officials had in fact exceeded the bounds of the U.S. Constitution in the wake of 9/11.

“The constitution defines the limits of the defendants’ authority; detaining individuals as if they were terrorists, in the most restrictive conditions of confinement available, simply because these individuals were, or appeared to be, Arab or Muslim exceeds those limits.  

“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 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,” the court ruled.

The court also said that holding individuals in solitary confinement 23 hours a day with regular strip searches because their perceived faith or race placed them in the group targeted for recruitment by al Qaeda violated the detainees’ constitutional rights. 

About the use of a broad and general basis for severe confinements, the court said: “It assumes that members of the group were already allied with or would be easily converted to the terrorist cause, until proven otherwise.  Why else would no further particularization of a connection to terrorism be required?  Perceived membership in the ‘targeted group’ was seemingly enough to justify extended confinement in the most restrictive conditions available”.

The suit was filed by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in April 2002 on behalf of eight male detainees of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian origin who were detained following the 9/11 attacks.

The rare court decision now paves the way for the plaintiffs to advance charges against Ashcroft, Mueller, and Ziglar.

“The court took this opportunity to remind the nation that the rule of law and the rights of human beings, whether citizens or not, must not be sacrificed in the face of national security hysteria,” Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Rachel Meeropol said in a statement released on the center’s official website. “Punishing low-level perpetrators is necessary, but hardly sufficient to prevent future abuse. Orders came from officials at the highest levels of government. Now we have the chance to ensure that they are held accountable and not treated as if they are above the law,” Meeropol added.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Haziran 2015, 14:32