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Ashcroft and other high-ranking officials publicly described the importance of using the material witness law against suspected terrorists, including US citizens. Less than two months after September 11, Ashcroft said that the "aggressive detention of lawbreakers and material witnesses is vital to preventing, disrupting or delaying new attacks."
Ad Feedback Al-Kidd was among the roughly half of those detained who were never called to testify in any criminal proceeding. One measure of Ashcroft's policy is that the government apologised to or reached monetary settlements with at least 13 people, according to a report by civil liberties groups.