Supreme Court considers former attorney general Ashcroft’s liability in lawsuit

On Wednesday the Supreme Court justices considered whether former attorney general John D. Ashcroft could be held personally liable for the detention of an American Muslim.

Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in 2003 and held as a material witness. But Kidd contends that he was not detained because he had information about terrorism. Instead, he says, he was detained as part of a plan approved by Ashcroft to sweep up Muslim men the government suspected but could not prove had ties to terrorism.

Ashcroft, President George W. Bush’s attorney general from 2001 to 2005, claims legal immunity from the lawsuit, and the Obama administration is defending him.

Kidd is a onetime University of Idaho football star, born Lavoni T. Kidd. He converted to Islam in college. He was arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003 as he was boarding a plane for Saudi Arabia, where he planned to study.

Kidd maintains that in his more than two weeks of detention, he was strip-searched, shackled, interrogated without an attorney present and treated as a terrorist.