Members of the Bush Administration can finally be held accountable for their crimes committed in the name of the war on terror.
Years ago, the case of Turkmen Vs. Ashcroft set the precedent that the Bush administration could be held accountable for the actions that it took to harm innocent people during the war on terror. However, the case has been in limbo for several years as constant appeals have been filed against the ruling.
Recently, The Second Circuit Court of Appeals finally rejected the appeal and ruled that people can, in fact, sue members of the government for enacting policies that result in trauma or injury. It is likely that this ruling sets a precedent for all members of the government and not just the Bush administration.
The Turkmen Vs. Ashcroft case involved a number of immigrants who were rounded up and tortured after the 9/11 attacks and were later found to be completely innocent. Muslim prisoners were fed pork intentionally by the guards who would abuse and insult them on a regular basis, leaving them in deplorable conditions, in total isolation with the lights on 24 hours per day. These people were never even charged with any crimes; they were detained without a trial.
“We simply cannot conclude at this stage that concern for the safety of our nation justified the violation of the constitutional rights on which this nation was built. The question at this stage of the litigation is whether the [eight arrested foreigners] have plausibly pleaded that [feds] exceeded the bounds of the Constitution in the wake of 9/11. We believe they have,” judges Rosemary Pooler and Richard Wesley wrote in their decision.
However, the ruling was not unanimous, Judge Reena Raggi was one of the few judges that objected to the ruling, saying that the judiciary branch did not have authority in this situation.
“Congress, not the judiciary, is the appropriate branch to decide whether the detained aliens should be allowed to sue executive policymakers in their individual capacities for money damages,” she wrote.
Journalist Thom Hartman said in a recent column that, “Like any self-proclaimed democracy, the United States can and should be a moral force for good in the world. But it can’t be one when it lets the biggest war criminals in its history get off scot-free. The decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals allowing lawsuits against people like former Attorney General John Ashcroft is a step in the right direction. It opens up a new path for our country, a path that offers us the chance for a national redemption of sorts.”
Governments are one of the legal shields that tyrants like to hide behind. Some of the most ruthless and notorious killers of all time were able to retire from politics without any penalties because they acted through the power of government. Allowing victims of violence to hold these politicians accountable could discourage future politicians from being so brutal. Looking through history, especially recent history, nearly everyone in the highest reaches of government has blood on their hands.
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