Court Opinion Denying Terror Suspect Secret Court Records Mostly Blacked Out
CHICAGO (CBS) – A federal appeals court has explained its ruling that a 20-year-old terrorism suspect has no right to see classified documents regarding how evidence against him was gathered, but much of the court’s opinion itself has been kept secret.
WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals filed a 300-line opinion in the case of Adel Daoud, whose attorneys wanted to see Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) documents, but approximately 200 of them were blacked out in the interests of national security.
Daoud has denied allegations he plotted to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside a Chicago bar. The phony bomb was provided by undercover federal agents who had been monitoring Daoud, who was arrested after pressing the trigger.
His attorneys have argued he was ensnared by federal agents, then wasn’t allowed to examine FISA Court information used to justify phone and computer taps.
Defense attorney Thomas Durkin has said Daoud was working on a term paper about Osama bin Laden around 2012. The FISA records he wants to see, he’s said, could shed light on whether investigators flagged Daoud because of Internet searches regarding bin Laden.
The appeals court reversed a trial court’s ruling granting Daoud’s lawyers unprecedented access to secret court records, but most of its written opinion was redacted, containing tidbits like, “The FBI’s investigation was triggered” then 30 blacked-out lines.
On another page of the opinion, after 10 blacked out lines, the opinion read, “It would have been irresponsible for the FBI not to have launched its investigation of the defendant.”
The court ruled the warrant applications were supported by probable cause to believe Daoud was an agent of a foreign power plotting violence in the U.S.
Law experts have said the appeals court ruling sets the stage for a possible appeal to either the full 7th Circuit, or the U.S. Supreme Court.