Surreal headline of the day

It comes from TechDirt:

Court Rejects Request That Secret NSA Evidence Used Against Terrorism Suspect Be Shared With Suspect’s Lawyers

The story is about Adel Daoud, a U.S. citizens accused of terrorism.

He’s one of the many, many folks that was arrested following one of the FBI’s infamous home grown plots (i.e. he was never actually involved in any terrorism, as all of his “co-conspirators” were actually FBI agents or informants, and there was never any actual threat or chance that he’d pull off an actual terrorist attack). Back during the (pre-Snowden) debates on renewing Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, Senator Dianne Feinstein used Daoud’s case as a specific example of when the program had been useful in stopping terrorism.

That caught the attention of Daoud’s lawyers, who noted that this was the first they’d heard of this, and it seemed pretty clear that the government had withheld the evidence that was used to bring Daoud to trial in the first place (which is, as you know, not really allowed). After asking for the evidence, the district court first said no, but then ordered that some of the documents being filed actually be shared with Daoud’s attorneys (who have the necessary security clearances). The DOJ, of course, flipped out at this idea that the lawyers for someone they’re trying to lock up forever should actually be able to see the evidence used against him and how it was collected.

This resulted in an appeals court hearing, which bizarrely had to happen twice after the FBI so scared court staff that they failed to record the public portion of the oral hearings. The hearings were also odd in that, at one point, everybody but DOJ folks and the judges were kicked out of the courtroom, raising serious questions about basic due process.

Unfortunately, Judge Richard Posner’s ruling . . . has found that the evidence does not need to be shared with Daoud’s lawyers.

You read that correctly. A U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that the federal government does not have to share with a U.S. citizen the evidence that government plans to use to convict him — in a trial that will take place in a secret court. This, even though Daoud’s attorneys have the proper security clearance to view the evidence against their client. As TechDirt’s Mike Masnick puts it, secret courts with secret evidence and secret hearings.

We’re deep in the rabbit hole, now

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."
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