Published on Truthout.org, by William Fischer, Nov. 03, 2009.
Former Bush administration Attorney General John Ashcroft had a busy day in court yesterday.
A federal appeals court ruled he could not be held responsible for kidnapping a Canadian citizen in New York and shipping him off to Syria where he was imprisoned for a year and tortured.
But, in another case, five men, who had been living in New York and were ultimately deported, won a $1.26 million settlement from the US government in a suit accusing Ashcroft and other officials of racial profiling, illegal detention and abuse of Muslim, Arab and South Asian men in the days following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 …
… All of the men were eventually deported, though several of the plaintiffs returned to New York under strict conditions to participate in depositions for their case against the government in early 2006.
“As with the Japanese internment, history will not look kindly upon the Ashcroft raids,” said CCR attorney Rachel Meeropol. “This is just the first step, though. To ensure that this never happens again, the former Attorney General and his cronies – the architects of this policy – must also be held accountable.”
The suit named as defendants then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, former INS Commissioner James Ziglar and officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where the plaintiffs were held.
Some of the abuse included beatings, repeated strip-searches and sleep deprivation. The allegations of inhumane and degrading treatment have been substantiated by two reports of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, and several defendants in the case have recently been convicted on federal charges of beatings and cover-ups of other prisoners around the same time period. (full text).