U.S. seeks to contain ‘top secret’ evidence in Mehanna trial

Laurel Sweet of the Boston Herald has just published a report on the DOJ’s use of state secrets arguments in prosecuting Tarek Mehanna.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. is beseeching a federal judge in Boston not to release to an accused Sudbury terrorist’s lawyers the evidence prosecutors that have amassed against him under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, warning the disclosure of “top secret” materials could “cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

Such lawyers are able to examine evidence without divulging contents to the accused. This argument has become typical of the DOJ for the past several years.

Holder asserted in a sworn claim of executive privilege filed with U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole Jr. in the case of Tarek Mehanna, “The FISA materials contain sensitive and classified information concerning United States intelligence sources and methods and other information related to efforts of the United States to conduct counterterrorism investigations.”

This argument has been used back since the civil war as spies for the North couldn’t get recognized for compensation while the government simply turned a blind eye to them. It is a specious argument.

“We don’t even know what the (FISA) evidence is,” Mehanna’s attorney Janice Bassil said yesterday, adding Holder’s attempt to withhold the government’s evidence from electronic surveillance and physical searches was not unexpected.

“In these cases, where there are accusations of terrorism, civil liberties and constitutional rights kind of go out the window,” she said. “They are not clearly recognized and are often ignored.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1353939

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