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Court: Bush Administration Officials Can’t Be Held Liable for Post-9/11 Mass Roundup of Muslims

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On June 19, the Supreme Court reversed a federal appeals court ruling that former high-level Bush administration officials may be sued for their roles in the post-9/11 profiling and abuse of Muslim, Arab and South Asian men. For more, we speak with Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Vince Warren, I wanted to ask you about a case that specifically involves the Center for Constitutional Rights. This is the recent Supreme Court ruling on June 19th. The court reversed a federal appeals court ruling that former high-level Bush administration officials may be sued for their roles in the post-9/11 profiling and abuse of Muslim, Arab and South Asian men. Explain this case.

VINCENT WARREN: The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found that the former attorney general, John Ashcroft, the former FBI director, Robert Mueller, now the special counsel, could be sued for their role in the rounding up of hundreds of men in New York after 9/11.

And you will remember, after 9/11, there was a citizen tip situation, where people were phoning in tips that this person is an Arab and he’s been working long hours, this person is a Muslim and he’s been renting a post office box. And based on those types of tips, lists were created, and then these men were just rounded up—rounded up, put in special detention facilities and essentially disappeared. And they were being held under suspicion of terrorist activities. A lot of them were deported because they were noncitizens. Of course, at the end of the day, none of them—not a single one—had any connection to terrorism.

So, our lawsuit, which has been going on for many years, sought to hold the high-level officials accountable for those activities. In some ways, it’s like a reversed Muslim ban that we’re seeing now, so rather than fighting to keep people out of the country, here we’re fighting to keep people that have done nothing wrong in the country and to prohibit administration officials from just rounding them up.

The Supreme Court reversed that decision and said that the high-level officials could not be held liable and that Congress didn’t provide a provision to make that happen. What’s dangerous about this decision, particularly in an era of state-sponsored discrimination and state-sponsored rounding up of Muslim and Arab men, is that there doesn’t appear to be a way to hold high-level officials accountable for these types of actions. And there’s no reason to think that these types of actions won’t happen again, unless the court holds these men accountable.

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