Chicago Federal Court Case Raises Questions About NSA Surveillance
Four days before a sweeping government surveillance law was set to expire last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the chamber’s Intelligence Committee, took to the Senate floor. She touted the law’s value by listing some of the terrorist attacks it had helped thwart, including “a plot to bomb a downtown Chicago bar” that fall.
“So I believe the FISA Amendments Act is important,” the California Democrat said before a vote to extend the 2008 law, “and these cases show the program has worked.”
Today, however, the government is refusing to say whether that law was used to develop evidence to charge Adel Daoud, a 19-year-old Chicago man accused of the bomb plot.
And Daoud’s lawyers said in a motion filed Friday that the reason is simple. The government, they said, wants to avoid a constitutional challenge to the law, which governs a National Security Agency surveillance program that has once again become the focus of national debate over its reach into Americans’ private communications.
“Whenever it is good for the government to brag about its success, it speaks loudly and publicly,” lawyers Thomas Durkin and Joshua Herman wrote in their motion. “When a criminal defendant’s constitutional rights are at stake, however, it quickly and unequivocally clams up under the guise of State Secrets.”