A 9th Circuit panel on Friday denounced the federal government’s post-9/11 practice of detaining innocent Americans under the federal material witness statute as “repugnant” and “a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history.”

In allowing Abdullah al-Kidd’s lawsuit against former Attorney General John Ashcroft to proceed, the three-judge panel held (.pdf) that the Idaho man’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was arrested and imprisoned without charges for two weeks in 2003 and later restricted to Nevada and three other states.

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