A federal appeals court is considering whether former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former FBI Director Robert Mueller can still be sued over alleged abuses of Muslim and Arab men detained in the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan heard arguments Thursday in an appeal of a judge's decision to dismiss the claims against Ashcroft and Mueller.

The plaintiffs allege in a lawsuit that the pair had the FBI oversee a program to detain the men on immigration violations and then pressure them into cooperating.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs claim Ashcroft and Mueller were aware of the abuses and allowed them to continue. Government lawyers say the officials never specified how the men should be treated so they can't be held liable.