Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Latest On The al-Haramain Case

As regular members of Joshua's Army know, there's a court case at the infamous Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that's been brewing that has major implications of how America fights domestic Islamist terrorism and its funding.

If you'll recall, the case asks: does the United States Government have the right to conduct secret surveillance of terrorism suspects on American soil?

AL -Haramain was a Saudi funded `charity' that is a designated terrorist group, with various branches responsible for funding things like Hamas,al Qaeda, the Bali Bombings, he 1998 US embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya and a host of other nefarious activities.

There are direct links to information about al-Haramain here.

Here's the case in a nutshell, if you've forgotten. A branch of al-Haramain opened in Ashland, Oregon. The US government got some confidential info and based on that, tapped the phones of the Oregon branch and heard evidence that they were helping to finance terrorist activities. The government then designated the Oregon branch as terrorists, and froze their assets. Al Haramain challenged this in court, unaware of the evidence the Feds had. Unfortunately, during the discovery portion of that litigation, a government employee accidentally gave top secret logs of the tapped phone conversations to Al Haramain's lawyers as part of a stack of documents.

As soon as they became aware of the surveillance, al-Haramain hooked up with the ACLU and other Leftist lawyers and turned this into a test case to challenge the legality of the surveillance, and by extension the legality of all secret surveillance in trials of this kind.The idea is to set a legal precedent to stop the Federal government from conducting surveillance on anybody, to prevent any similar surveillance in the future, and to make inadmissible any evidence gathered by surveillance in the past.

The implications if they get away with it are staggering.

The feds tried to play catch up on this major screwup by trying to suppress the evidence of the leaked document on grounds that its exposure would endanger national security. The Feds eventually got back all U.S. copies of the surveillance logs — but not before an unknown number of copies made their way overseas.

So what the three judge panel from the Ninth Circuit was ruling on is this: does the plaintiff, al-Haramain have the legal right to sue the government? In order to be able to sue, they have to prove the surveillance, and to prove that,they have to use the only evidence which proves this, the logs..which the feds claim was inadmissible evidence because of national security concerns. Al -Haramin and their lawyers actually wanted to proceed with the case based on the memories and descriptions of the document, using testimony from the various people that saw it before it was given back to the government.

The trial was conducted before two Clinton appointees and a superannuated Carter appointee with a reputation as one of the most Left-leaning appellate judges in America.

As I predicted, this is headed for the Supreme Court as the Ninth Circuit court mostly ruled in favor of the jihadis but with an interesting twist or two that renders the decision a legal absurdity...nothing new for the Ninth Circuit, the most reversed appellate court in America.

On the one hand, the court ruled that al-Haramain's lawsuit could continue and they could sue the government...and on the other, that the controversial document that's al-Haramain's basis for the suit, the surviellance phone logs, is inadmissable, is covered by the State Secrets Act and cannot be reconstructed by al-Haramain or its lawyers, even from memory.

Or to translate it another way, it's like saying you can prosecute a burgler for theft, but you can't use any of the evidence that shows a theft occurred!

To get around this, the court made the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program itself the issue, and left open whether provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow the lawsuit to proceed by allowing the courts to use `special proceedings' to hear classified evidence.

So, will the lawyers and the ACLU gut the US government's efforts to protect us from domestic jihadi terrorism? We'll see...

We have by no means heard the last of this.

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