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New legal fight over U.S. antiterror tactics

The Supreme Court agrees to examine if high-level officials can be sued for harsh policies.

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Four days after handing the Bush administration a major setback in its approach to the war on terror, the US Supreme Court has set the stage for another showdown over controversial antiterror policies.

On Monday, the nation's highest court agreed to decide how much evidence is needed to sustain a lawsuit seeking to hold former Attorney General John Ashcroft and current FBI Director Robert Mueller personally responsible for harsh antiterror policies that allegedly led to abuses of Muslim detainees in US prisons.

The issue is important because it could open the way to thousands of lawsuits by Muslims who were rounded up and subjected to harsh conditions of confinement during the investigation following the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. More significantly, it could open the door to private lawsuits against other cabinet-level members of the Bush administration allegedly involved in developing controversial antiterror policies.

The issue arises in a suit filed by a Pakistani Muslim held for seven months in solitary confinement in a Brooklyn prison after being wrongly suspected of involvement in terrorism after 9/11. Javaid Iqbal was deported to Pakistan after the FBI determined he was not a terrorist.

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