Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Liability And Abuses Of Power

Case Accusing Bush Officials Heads To SCOTUS:

The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to decide whether high-ranking George W. Bush administration officials — including John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, and Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director — may be held liable for policies adopted after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The case began as a class action in 2002 filed by immigrants, most of them Muslim, over policies and practices that swept hundreds of people into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn on immigration violations in the weeks after the attacks. The plaintiffs said they had been subjected to beatings, humiliating searches and other abuses.

The roundups drew criticism from the inspector general of the Justice Department, who in 2003 issued reports saying that the government had made little or no effort to distinguish between genuine suspects and Muslim immigrants with minor visa violations.
Ironic. For years I've lectured in 3150 and written about the abuses that took place in the days and weeks following 9/11 to deaf ears. Most students are either incredulous or in total darkness about the mass roundups which occurred between 9/11/01 and the end of that month.

Now this case promises to shed more light and pin the tail on the ass that was the overreaction of high ranking Bush admin officials in those days and weeks following. And guess who (not surprisingly) is against the immigrants and their lawsuit? 
In its petition seeking Supreme Court review, the Obama administration urged the justices to put an end to the litigation.

“The Court of Appeals concluded,” the petition said, “that the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement officers — a former attorney general of the United States and former director of the F.B.I. — may be subjected to the demands of litigation and potential liability for compensatory and even punitive damages in their individual capacities because they could conceivably have learned about and condoned the allegedly improper ways in which their undisputedly constitutional policies were being implemented by lower-level officials during an unprecedented national security crisis.”
Cowards. Say what you will about the Obama administration in its final days now, but it has been damn consistent for the past 8 years on the issue of the War on Terror, GITMO, and the egregious abuses of government officials during the Bush years: "it's better to look forward than it is looking backwards." 

The lead plaintiff's lawyer speaks for me on this one.
Rachel Meeropol, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the plaintiffs, said the cases, Ashcroft v. Turkmen, No. 15-1359 and two others, involved fundamental principles.

“No one is above the law,” she said. “To suggest that the most powerful people in our nation should escape liability when they violate clearly established law defies the most fundamental principle of our legal system.”

Should be an interesting argument and decision, given a depleted court already and two justices already recusing themselves. The case is Ashcroft v. Turkmen (2017).

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