In hot water now?: Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft talks about the Patriot Act as he answers questions from the media before giving a lecture at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., in 2006.
Did then-Attorney General John Ashcroft violate the Constitution in his handling of certain national security investigations shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks? According to the Los Angeles Times, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has reason to believe that he did, and thus Ashcroft can be sued for prosecutorial abuses even this long after the fact, the paper reported Saturday. —KA
Los Angeles Times:
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.
In a ruling that said Ashcroft could be sued for prosecutorial abuses, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the former attorney general immunity from liability for how he used the material witness warrants in national security investigations.
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.”