Sunday, January 22, 2012

The FBI Spied on Me and Then Lied About It

The FBI is supposed to be defending us but instead are participating in a witch hunt. Remind you of the Hoover days?

Five years ago, I joined a group of leaders of the Southern California Muslim community in an attempt to find out whether the government was conducting illegal surveillance at our mosques, our homes, our jobs, in public places and elsewhere. To do so, we filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the FBI, seeking any records relating to us and containing information about "monitoring, surveillance, observation, questioning, interrogation and/or infiltration."

The FBI produced less than 100 pages in response. Unsatisfied, we filed a lawsuit and forced them to dig deeper into their databases. This time, the FBI produced over 800 pages, but, for the most part, they were redacted because - supposedly - the information they contained was "outside the scope" of our request.

When we challenged the FBI, the court ordered an in camera review (for the eyes of the court only) to find out what the documents really contained. The court concluded that the FBI's claim that very little of the information they had was responsive to our request was blatantly false.

In a sealed order, the judge strongly criticized the government for having affirmatively misled the court. The government filed an emergency appeal, but the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling and stressed that the government cannot, under any circumstance, withhold responsive information from the court because doing so would seriously compromise the court's function in overseeing FOIA actions.
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