It’s Not War Crimes, But Bush Officials Can Be Sued For Post 9/11 Violations

For even semi-intelligent Americans, various actions by the Bush administration after the terror attacks on 9/11 were either war crimes or at the very least unconstitutional. Whether it was illegally spying on American citizens, or rounding up “suspected terrorists” based solely on their country of origin, perceived faith (Islam), or suspected racial makeup, the Bush administration likely violated the Constitution in several ways. Although the actions in America by the Bush administration do not qualify as war crimes, they were certainly constitutional violations that must be addressed and rectified. Now, according to a recent ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Bush administration officials did take part in “grave constitutional violations” after the 9/11 terror attacks. The Appellate Court revived a ‘long-runninglawsuit against the Bush administration brought by mostly Muslim immigrants who were rounded up as terrorists, subjected to months of beatings, humiliating searches, and a wide range of other prisoner abuses at a detention center on American soil.

The case that finally made it to the 2nd Circuit Court, Turkmen v. Ashcroft, was originally filed as a class action in 2002 at a time it was dangerously daring to challenge Bush policies that swept up hundreds of predominately Muslim men after the September 11 terror attacks. Instead of targeting the Bush White House, which likely would have garnered a visit from a black ops hit team, the plaintiff’s lawyers only cited former attorney general John Ashcroft and former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III as defendants. Filing a lawsuit against George W. Bush or his White House in 2002 would have been an insanely foolish, and likely deadly, move.

There was a similar case in 2009 to the one the 2nd Circuit just decided, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, where the Supreme Court ruled another wrongly-detained man was prohibited from suing Ashcroft and Mueller III. The High Court claimed that Mr. Iqbal had failed to supply enough detail about what Ashcroft and Mueller did wrong in rounding him up as a terrorist, but according to the 2nd Circuit’s ruling this past week, “the plaintiffs cleared that (legal) hurdle.”

In writing a joint opinion for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Judges Rosemary S. Pooler and Richard C. Wesley said that the eight plaintiffs, who are either Arab or South Asian immigrants, were unjustly detained, tortured, and generally abused because  the Bush administration’s policies after 9/11 informed them that Muslim immigrants were terrorists. If the Bush administration did not determine the brown-skinned immigrants were already Al Qaeda terrorists, they did claim they were ‘suspected terrorists’ based on their “perceived faith or race” according to the 2nd Circuit.

The eight men were arrested under orders from the Bush administration under the guise of committing the most heinous and deadly of all  immigration violations; working without legal authorization or overstaying a visa after the Bush family’s Saudi Arabian friends committed unspeakable acts of terror on 9/11. The truth is that the men were arrested and seized (according to the 4th Amendment) because they were “suspected of being Muslims,” not because of petty immigration violations and the 2nd Circuit’s judges were perfectly capable of working that out of their own accord.  The eight men were detained by the Bush administration for being “suspected terrorists” and sequestered in jail between three to eight months in New York and New Jersey, abused by prison guards, and placed in solitary confinement for extended periods of time.

In fact, according to the 2nd Circuit ruling, “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. Holding individuals in solitary confinement 23 hours a day with regular strip-searches because their perceived faith or race placed them in the group targeted for recruitment by Al Qaeda violated the detainees’ constitutional rights.” Further, the judges wrote, “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 foreigners arrested on immigration charges have plausibly pleaded that the (Bush) government officials exceeded the bounds of the Constitution in the wake of 9/11. We believe that they have. The Constitution defines the limits of the Defendants’ (Bush administration’s) 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.”

In what has to be the most bizarre, most absurd, and most typically neo-con thinking possible, particularly for a Circuit Court judge, Reena Raggi wrote in a 91-page dissenting opinion that no court was fit to decide if the eight men were illegally detained or if the Bush administration violated the Constitution in seizing, torturing, and holding them captive without due process. Judge Raggi, a 2002 George W. Bush appointee, said that deciding what is and is not constitutional is the sworn duty of the United States government’s legislative branch, not the judicial branch. It leads one to ponder why Bush appointed this person who is without a rudimentary comprehension of the Constitution or what the separate branches of government’s specific duties are. According to the Constitution Judge Raggi swore to uphold, it is the judiciary that determines what is constitutional; Congress makes laws. However, lacking that fundamental knowledge Raggi foolishly wrote in her dissent that “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.”

It is a simple task to fathom why George W. Bush appointed Raggi to the 2nd Circuit Court. In typical Bush fashion she railed on the “majority” opinion and said they made a serious error in daring allow a lawsuit against “the nation’s two highest-ranking law enforcement officials for executing (Bush) policies propounded to safeguard the nation in the immediate aftermath of the infamous Al Qaeda terrorist attacks.” One gets the true neo-con thinking in Raggi’s statement that arresting, detaining, and abusing eight men because they were perceived as Muslims was a public good and display of tolerance. Seriously, she actually said that “it is difficult to imagine a public good more demanding of decisiveness or more tolerant of reasonable judgments than the protection of this nation and its people from further terrorist attacks.” Only in neo-con world is the idea of imprisoning and abusing eight human beings living in America for appearing Muslim that made them “suspected terrorists” considered “a public good” or a remotely “reasonable judgment” regardless the reason or who in the Bush White House issued the executive order.

After thirteen years, the eight plaintiff’s lawyer said the ruling sent a powerful message. A lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Rachel Meeropol concurred with the plaintiff’s lawyer and held out hope there will be more defendants going forward. Ms. Meeropol opined that, “although punishing low-level perpetrators is necessary, it is hardly sufficient to prevent future abuse. Orders came from officials at the highest levels of government. Now we have the chance to ensure that they are held accountable and not treated as if they are above the law.”

However well-intentioned Meeropol’s assertion, high level Bush administration officials are above the law or they would be sitting in the Hague awaiting trial or waiting to see which prison they would be spending the rest of their pathetic war criminal lives in. However, they are above the law and free because here in America the rule of law is not applicable to Republican war criminals. Why? Because it is more crucial for Democrats to “look forward” and “not backwards” at seven-and-a-half years of a Republican administration that regularly violated the Geneva Convention and the United States Constitution.

However, it appears that now, thanks in great part to the long-suffering and perseverance of eight men Bush’s administration perceived were Muslim  and therefore terrorists, and a decision by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, at least two of the Bush criminals will face their accusers in a court of law. Sadly the Bush duo is not being sued for war crimes, but for violating the U.S. Constitution that they and most Democrats do not believe applies to a Republican administration.

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