Court Orders Review Of FBI Records On California Muslim Organizations As New Complaints Emerge In 2 States

May 6, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: OMB Watch

Responding to claims that Muslim organizations have been illegally spied upon in southern California, a federal judge said on April 20, 2009 he will conduct a review of the FBI records. The decision comes after nearly three years of legal efforts by the ACLU and American Muslim groups to obtain information that they say would demonstrate illegal surveillance by the FBI. The FBI will have 30 days to deliver approximately 100 pages of related surveillance memos and the files on the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its leaders to the judge.

Judge Cormac J. Carney said after he receives the FBI files he will determine which, if any, can be released to the public and what must remain protected under federal law. In 2007 six Muslim groups and five individuals sued the FBI and the Department of Justice alleging the agency failed to turn over records requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) a year earlier. The FBI had released largely redacted documents, claiming the information contained in the files were beyond the scope of the FOIA request.

Applauding the judge's decision, ACLU attorney, Jennie Pasquarella said, "There's a reason why they don't want to disclose this information. It will show why they've surveilled people and we think it might show they're surveilling people based on their religion."

This ruling comes in the wake of a steady decline in relations between the FBI and American Muslim groups. In March 2009, the American Muslim Taskforce, a coalition of Islamic groups, said they may boycott cooperation with FBI investigations after learning that a paid FBI informant was discovered in a southern California mosque.