(CNN) - Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is not immune from being sued by a man who claims he was illegally detained under Justice Department policies implemented after the September 11 terror attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.
The man, a native-born U.S. citizen who was once a college football star, was held and interrogated by the FBI for 16 days in 2003 and his travel was limited for another year, court documents said.
A spokesman for Ashcroft, asked for his reaction, told CNN, "We're reviewing the decision and have no further comment."
The court rejected Ashcroft's argument that his involvement was as a prosecutor, which would give him full immunity from lawsuits - not as an investigator, which could leave him liable.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned that the White House is quietly talking about drafting formal health care legislation after allowing Congress to work on its own for months.
Multiple sources close to the process told CNN Friday that while the plan is uncertain, they are preparing for the possibility they could deliver their own legislation to Capitol Hill sometime after the President Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress Wednesday, with one source calling the possibility of new legislation a "contingency" approach if efforts by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to craft a deal fall through.
The White House emphasized Friday that no formal bill has yet been written. "The President has been reviewing all of the various legislative proposals, but no decision has been made about whether formal legislation will be presented," said Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.
Multiple sources told CNN earlier in the day the thinking among administration officials was that the president will lay out a path to reform in his speech next week that the White House hopes can bridge the various differences in the competing proposals. Sources expect the president to emphasize the message: If Congress passes something now, it will serve as a foundation to pass further reform in the future.
As previously reported, the so-called trigger option remains very much on the table.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Obama prepares to go before Congress and lay out more details about his stance on health reform, he held a conference call Friday with some of the most liberal members of the House, who say they won't vote for a bill without a government-run insurance option.
Two congresswomen on the call, which took place Friday afternoon, tell CNN that the president probed them about how entrenched they are, even asking them to define what they mean when they call for a "robust" public option.
"I think he would like to convince us that there is something short of that could lead to a public option that would satisfy us, and guess what? It doesn't," Rep. Lynne Woolsey, D-California, told CNN in a telephone interview after the conference call.
Woolsey, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, insisted that the president did not explicitly warn them that he may have to give up a so-called public option in order to pass a bill through the more moderate Senate, but it seemed he was laying the groundwork.
(CNN) - The White House found itself on the defensive Friday over what would ordinarily be considered the most uncontroversial of events: a back-to-school speech for children.
The White House said the address, set for Tuesday, and accompanying suggested lesson plans are simply meant to encourage students to study hard and stay in school.
Many conservative parents aren't buying it. They're convinced the president is going to use the opportunity to press a partisan political agenda on impressionable young minds.
"Thinking about my kids in school having to listen to that just really upsets me," suburban Colorado mother Shanneen Barron told CNN Denver affiliate KMGH. "I'm an American. They are Americans, and I don't feel that's OK. I feel very scared to be in this country with our leadership right now." Video Watch how some parents are upset »
(CNN) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is adding his voice to the growing conservative chorus criticizing President Obama's scheduled address to public school children next week.
Pawlenty, who since announcing he was not seeking a third term as governor earlier this summer has stepped up his criticism of the president, said Friday the classroom is no place to show a video address from Obama.
"At a minimum it's disruptive, number two, it's uninvited and number three, if people would like to hear his message they can, on a voluntary basis, go to YouTube or some other source and get it. I don't think he needs to force it upon the nation's school children," he told reporters at the Minnesota State fair.
The governor also objected to the Department of Education's initial encouragement of school children to write the president with their thoughts on what they can do to help him. Amid criticism, the proposal was dropped.
"There are going to be questions about - well, what are they are going to do with those names and is that for the purpose of a mailing list?" Pawlenty said.
The Democratic National Committee called the comments 'outrageous.'
(CNN) - Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch, a Democrat, obtained the necessary paperwork Friday to run for the Senate seat long held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, according the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office.
Lynch's move comes a day after Democrat Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general, officially kicked off her campaign for the seat. A primary election has been set for December 8 while the general election will be held on January 19.
Lynch, whose district includes Boston's southern suburbs, has served in Congress since 2001. Before that he spent close to a decade in the Massachusetts House and Senate.
It was supposed to be a "feel good" event for the White House and a break from all the fighting and name-calling over health care, but instead President Obama's back-to-school speech next Tuesday has created a firestorm of its own.
Some school districts around the country are refusing to carry it. Some Republicans say they're appalled at spending tax money to spread the president's "socialist ideology." They're comparing it to something you would see in North Korea or Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
On the surface, it seems like a good idea — a pep talk for the nation's schoolchildren from the president, calling on them to take responsibility for their education and do their best.
Instead it's starting to look like another political miscalculation by the White House with some Republicans and parents characterizing the ideas as developing a "cult of personality."
The White House is asking students to write letters about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals. They will also release the text of the speech on Monday so parents know what to expect. Seems harmless enough.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion, click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama plans to announce Friday that the White House will release its future visitor logs on a regular basis, two administration officials said.
The announcement follows a legal settlement with the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which had sued the administration for release of visitor logs, the group announced on its Web site.
Since taking office, the president has been criticized for refusing to release some of the logs, including those relating to health care and coal company executives.
The new policy will apply to visitor logs created after September 15 - not to previous visitor logs, according to an administration statement outlining the policy that CREW posted on its Web site. The future logs will be released 90 to 120 days after the meetings, and there are some exceptions.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Bob McDonnell is using a new television ad to push back against a wave of criticism over his 1989 master's thesis, which argued that working women are harmful to traditional families.
The 20-year old research paper has dominated headlines in the Virginia governor's race this week, with much of the coverage being spurred on by Democrat Creigh Deeds in an effort to portray McDonnell as too conservative for the moderate voters who have gravitated to the Republican's side.
McDonnell's new ad, which his campaign touted as "positive" in a press release late Thursday, portrays the former state Attorney General walking at a brisk pace along the streets of the northern Virginia neighborhood where he grew up. His three daughters - including his daughter Jeanine, an Army officer who served in Iraq - figure prominently in the 30-second commercial, which is called "Leadership."
McDonnell opens the spot with an homage to his working mother, distancing himself from his 1989 claim that such women are "detrimental" to the family unit.
"An Air Force officer and working mom raised me in this middle class neighborhood," he says.
The Republican hopeful goes on to promise results on the economy, job creation and college costs - avoiding the topic of social issues, as he has worked to do for much of the campaign.
The ad is running statewide but not in northern Virginia, where Deeds is running a tough radio ad accusing McDonnell of wanting to take Virginia back to "the dark ages."