Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ashcroft can be sued over arrests, appeals court rules,0,2874569,full.story

Then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft violated the rights of U.S. citizens in the fevered wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by ordering arrests on material witness warrants when the government lacked probable cause, a federal appeals court said in a scathing opinion Friday.

Members of the panel, all appointees of Republican presidents, characterized Ashcroft's detention policy as "repugnant to the Constitution, and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history."

There's nothing better than when powerful public figures are held accountable for abuses of power (well except for when they don't commit abuses in the first place, but no point discussing hypotheticals). Now we'll just have to see if this isn't overturned, and he actually loses a case.

Although I have a problem with this:
"Although the ruling denied immunity to Ashcroft, the government would probably be responsible for covering any successful damage claims brought by those found to have been wrongly arrested."

The problem is that forcing the government to pay won't actually punish anyone responsible. When you fine the government they just make it up in taxes, or printing money, neither of which is good for the public. I'd much rather see the top figures in these abuses of power be held personally responsible.

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