Monday, December 6, 2021

High Court to hear secret case on Muslim surveillance

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case about the government’s ability to take the trial out of court, claiming they will uncover secrets that threaten national security.

The case before the High Court on Monday involves a group of Muslim men from Southern California. He filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that the FBI spied on him and hundreds of others in a surveillance operation after 9/11. The group, represented by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and others, claimed religious discrimination and other rights violations, saying they were spied on simply because of their faith.

A lower court dismissed almost all of his claims when the government said allowing the case to proceed could reveal “state secrets” – who the government is investigating and why. But an appeals court reversed that decision, saying that the lower court should first personally examine the evidence the government said to see whether the alleged surveillance was illegal.

Before this, like the Trump administration, the Biden administration is also telling the justices that the decision is wrong.

The case involves a confidential informant, Craig Monteil, used by the FBI from 2006 to 2007. Monteil pretended to be a new convert to Islam as a way of becoming part of Southern California’s Muslim community.

Monteil told People he was a fitness consultant, but he was actually working out as part of a monitoring program called Operation Flex. Monteil regularly attended the Islamic Center of Irvine in Orange County and has said that he was asked to collect as much information as possible about as many people as possible. He collected names and phone numbers and secretly recorded thousands of hours of conversations and hundreds of hours of video, using a camera hidden in the button of a shirt.

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Eventually Monteil’s handlers ask him to inquire about jihad and express his willingness to engage in violence. Those questions caused members of the community to report him to the FBI and other officials and demand a restraining order against him.

The FBI has acknowledged that Monteil was an informant, and that the story was covered in news media, including the National Public Radio show “This American Life”.

Three men from Monteil reportedly filed suit seeking damages and asking the government to destroy or return the information gathered.

This is the second case the court has heard invoking the state’s secret privilege since he began his new term in October. Last month, the court heard a case related to the Guantanamo Bay captive In which the secret privileges of the states were also included.

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