The Supreme Court has once again agreed to consider whether the former attorney general, John D. Ashcroft, can be sued for the detaining a US citizen who was ‘treated like a terrorist’ after the aggressive response by the Bush administration after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Abdullah al-Kidd has been given the go ahead to press forward with his case against Ashcroft by lower courts, which attempts to hold the former attorney general personally responsible for the misuse of federal laws which saw him held without charge.
Al-Kidd, who converted to Islam in college at the University of Idaho, was arrested in 2003 at Dulles Airport when he was boarding a plane bound for Saudi Arabia, where he had planned to undertake a period of study.
Al-Kidd says he was held for 15-nights under the federal material-witness statute, but claims that it was part of a broader scheme by Ashcroft to ‘sweep up’ Muslim men who the government had no proof of ties to terrorism for.
The law allows prosecutors to take custody of witnesses to guarantee that they testify at a trial, however al-Kidd’s attorneys says that his client’s treatment was "gross abuse of the government's narrow power" and was further a part of an acknowledged strategy by the administration to use the laws to hold people they had no proof against.
Ashcroft has claimed immunity and is being represented by the Obama administration, as he was by the Bush administration before that. The current administration has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling by a lower court to let the lawsuit proceed.