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Los Angeles Times Editorial: Detainee Should Have Day in Court Against Ex-Atty. Gen. Ashcroft

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By the Los Angeles Times
Editorial Page

Granting a request by the Obama administration, the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether former Atty. Gen. John Aschroft can be sued by a U.S. citizen who says he was wrongly arrested as a material witness.

Rather than reflexively protecting a former government official, the justices should pay close attention to an appeals court opinion explaining why Ashcroft isn’t entitled to immunity.

The case concerns Abdullah Kidd, a convert to Islam who was known as Lavoni Kidd when he played football for the University of Idaho. According to Kidd, in 2003 he was arrested at Dulles International Airport and then shuttled between detention facilities, under the pretense of securing his appearance as a witness at someone else’s trial on visa fraud charges.

Kidd’s arrest was predicated on a false FBI report that Kidd had purchased a one-way ticket to Saudi Arabia.

After two weeks of confinement, Kidd was released to his wife’s custody but deprived of his passport and subjected to limitations on his travel. In 2004, a court lifted the restrictions and dismissed Kidd as a material witness. He was never called to testify at the trial at which he was supposed to be a witness.

Kidd argues that Ashcroft adopted and implemented a policy of using material-witness warrants to detain suspected terrorists when probable cause of their wrongdoing was lacking — a policy that led to his arrest on the basis of a false statement.

To read more click here.


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