Justices Shield High Officials From Abuse Suits


Without mentioning the controversy over holding high officials of the Bush Administration legally to blame for torture allegedly carried out against detainees held by the U.S. military or Central Intelligence Agency, the Supreme Court signaled yesterday that it may be very difficult to hold them accountable in some future lawsuit by a detainee claiming such abuse, writes Lyle Denniston of Scotusblog.com. The court ruled that high officials cannot be held responsible for the actions of individuals down in the ranks, but can be found liable only for their own personal misconduct.

That does not amount to a legal pass, but it does require anyone who would seek damages for being unconstitutionally abused while in custody to come forth with specific proof that high-ranking government officials directly and personally committed illegal acts. Much attention to the Court's 5-4 ruling in Ashcroft v. Iqbal (07-1915) will be focused on whether former Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and current FBI Director Robert Mueller will ultimately be held accountable for the FBI roundup within the U.S. and subsequent abuse of men of Arab descent in the immediate wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Comments are closed.