Civil Rights Erosion The Watch

Supreme Court Asked, Can John Ashcroft be Sued for 9/11 Policy?

Abdullah al-Kidd had an all-American background: Kansas native, then a football star in college. That’s when he converted to Islam.

John Ashcroft was the attorney general who approved a policy that led to the arrests of al-Kidd and dozens of others without evidence of crimes in the George W. Bush administration’s war on America, which it launched in response to the 9/11 attacks.

Now the Supreme Court will decide whether al-Kidd can try, through a civil lawsuit, to prove that Ashcroft should be held personally responsible for his arrest.

It is just one of several instances where Ashcroft’s push-the-envelope style during the fear-filled period that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has ended up spawning lawsuits.

Al-Kidd was arrested at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., in 2003, preparing to board a flight to Saudi Arabia. FBI Director Robert Mueller boasted in congressional testimony that al-Kidd’s arrest was one of five major anti-terrorism coups for the agency, including the arrest of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

The FBI persuaded a judge to issue a warrant for al-Kidd’s arrest by contending he had paid $5,000 for a one-way ticket and neglecting to mention that he was an American and had a wife and children in the U.S. His lawyers say the claim about the ticket was false, that he had a much cheaper, round-trip ticket.

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