Today, in a case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) thirteen years ago, in April 2002, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated claims against former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former FBI director Robert Mueller, and former INS Commissioner James Ziglar for their roles in the post-9/11 immigration detentions, abuse, and religious profiling of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian men. It is exceedingly rare for a court to allow claims against such high-level officials to proceed.
The case seeks to hold accountable high-level Bush administration officials, including former-Attorney General John Ashcroft and former-FBI Director Robert Mueller, for their role in ordering racial and religious profiling and abuse in detention, in violation of the detainees’ rights under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. Plaintiffs were held in a specially-created Administrative Maximum Special Housing Unit (ADMAX SHU), in solitary confinement. They were purposefully deprived of sleep, denied contact with the outside world, beaten and verbally abused, and denied the ability to practice their religion. The former-wardens and other Metropolitan Detention Center officials who oversaw this abuse have also been named in the case.
If there is one guiding principle to our nation it is the rule of law. It protects the unpopular view, it restrains fear‐based responses in times of trouble, and it sanctifies individual liberty regardless of wealth, faith, or color. The Constitution defines the limits of the Defendants’ authority; detaining individuals as if they were terrorists, in the most restrictive conditions of confinement available, simply because these individuals were, or appeared to be, Arab or Muslim exceeds those limits. It might well be that national security concerns motivated the Defendants to take action, but that is of little solace to those who felt the brunt of that decision. The suffering endured by those who were imprisoned merely because they were caught up in the hysteria of the days immediately following 9/11 is not without a remedy.