Investigating the Bush administration
David Kaye says it's impossible to put the past behind us when a president may have violated the law. James Jay Carafano says accusations of torture should be examined in court, not politicized commis.
The justices rule that Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani Muslim arrested after Sept. 11, may not sue former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III for abuses he says he suffered.
The justices rule that Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani Muslim arrested after Sept. 11, may not sue former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III for abuses he says he suffered. Reporting from Washington -- The Supreme Court served notice Monday that it would set a high bar for anyone seeking to hold top government officials liable for abuse suffered by prisoners held as part of the Bush administration's war on terrorism.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy spoke for a 5-4 majority in throwing out a lawsuit against former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that claimed the two ordered the roundup of hundreds of Muslim men after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It should come as no surprise that a legitimate policy directing law enforcement to arrest and detain individuals because of their suspected link to the attacks would produce a disparate, incidental impact on Arab Muslims, even though the purpose of the policy was to target neither Arabs nor Muslims," Kennedy said. "The Sept. 11 attacks were perpetrated by 19 Arab Muslim hijackers who counted themselves members in good standing of Al Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist group."
The ruling could serve as a procedural barrier for lawsuits against former officials who have been sued by prisoners being held as "enemy combatants."
issues & cases > case docket > iqbal v. ashcroft
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Iqbal v. Ashcroft
Pakistani national Javaid Iqbal was arrested in New York as part of a post-September 11 dragnet by federal officials that targeted Arab men, among others. The U.S. detained Iqbal, subjecting him to beatings, frequent invasive body searches, and other forms of mistreatment, and often confiscated his Koran and forbade his participation in Friday prayers. NCLR has a strong interest in ensuring that all persons receive the protections of the basic civil liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and is concerned about government treatment of individuals, racial/ethnic targeting, and religious freedom violations. NCLR joined an amicus brief opposing the government’s efforts to make it more difficult for civil rights plaintiffs to discover information about higher government officials who set and oversee policies that violate people’s rights.
On May 18, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Iqbal. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, held that Iqbal’s pleadings were insufficient to show that former FBI Director Robert Mueller and former Attorney General John Ashcroft violated the constitutional rights of Arab Americans detained in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Plaintiffs must plead that each government official acted in a way that violates the Constitution,” rejecting the approach advocated for by the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic National Litigation Project at Yale Law School and civil rights groups, including NCLR. The officials must have acted for the purpose of discriminating on account of race, religion, or national origin, not for a neutral reason.
Justice Souter dissented, joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Stevens, said Iqbal should have been permitted to proceed with his case. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals next decides whether to permit Iqbal to amend his complaint and begin anew.
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Detainees upon arrival at Camp X-Ray, January 2002
The Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp is a detainment facility operated by Joint Task Force
Guantánamo of the United States government since 2002 in Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, which is on the shore of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The detainment areas consists of three camps in the base: Camp Delta (which includes Camp Echo), Camp Iguana, and Camp X-Ray (which has been closed). The facility is often referred to as Guantánamo, or Gitmo. In 2001, President George W. Bush signed an executive order that stipulated that US military could indefinitely detain any non-citizen who he believed was involved in international terrorism. After the Justice Department advised that the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp could be considered outside US legal jurisdiction, prisoners captured in Afghanistan were moved there beginning in early 2002. After the Bush administration asserted that detainees were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on June 29, 2006 that they were entitled to the minimal protections listed under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Following this, on July 7, 2006, the Department of Defense issued an internal memo stating that prisoners would in the future be entitled to protection under Common Article 3. The detainees currently held as of June 2008 have been classified by the United States as "enemy combatants".
On January 22, 2009 the White House announced that President Barack Obama had signed an order to suspend the proceedings of the Guantanamo military commission for 120 days and that the detention facility would be shut down within the year. On January 29, 2009 a military judge at Guantanamo rejected the White House request in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, creating an unexpected challenge for the administration as it reviews how America puts Guantanamo detainees on trial.
On May 20, 2009, the United States Senate passed an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 2346) by a 90-6 vote to block funds to release prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.