01 June 2011

SCOTUS says Ashcroft can't be sued over post-9/11 detention

Yesterday, in the case of Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that former Bush administration attorney general John Ashcroft cannot be sued for his role in detaining an American Muslim man without charge after 9/11.

This reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling that the suit could move forward.

As the Washington Post has described the case, "At the heart of the lawsuit is a strategy launched by the Justice Department and the FBI after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Ashcroft, the attorney general at the time, asserted that authorities would take 'suspected terrorists off the street' and engage in 'aggressive detention of lawbreakers and material witnesses' to disrupt possible al-Qaeda plots."

In other words, they just scooped up all the "suspected terrorists" they could find (i.e., Muslim and Middle-Eastern-looking men) in hopes of discovering a theoretical needle in a haystack. That's called racial profiling. It's immoral. It's ineffective. And it's an expensive waste of time.

Will there be no accountability ever in the Bush administration's misguided "war on terror"?

According to a piece by Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog, the Court found that "Ashcroft was immune because he had not violated a constitutional right that existed at the time of al-Kidd’s arrest in March 2003."

So apparently universal human rights don't count. Only court-interpreted constitutional rights.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the U.S. is a signatory, states the following:
Article 9.
• No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.
• Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.
• (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
But apparently the "justices" sitting on the highest court in the land cannot be bothered with such considerations.

>> Read more on this case at SCOTUSblog.

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