Obama Invokes State Secrets Privilege Again

Obama Invokes State Secrets Privilege Again August 5, 2011

Add yet another case where the Obama administration wants to deny plaintiffs any due process and protect the executive branch from any kind of accountability. The DOJ once again invoked the State Secrets Privilege, this time in a case filed against the FBI over surveillance of a Southern California mosque.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked state secrets rules to prevent information from being released in a lawsuit filed by Southern California Muslims who claim the FBI monitored their activities solely because of their religion.

In a legal declaration filed late Monday, Holder makes a rare assertion of the state secrets privilege, arguing that it could cause significant harm to national security if the government is forced to reveal the subjects of a mosque-surveillance operation in 2006 and describe how the monitoring was carried out.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing rare about it anymore. Starting with the Bush administration and continuing with the Obama administration, the DOJ has invoked the SSP in every single case filed against the government for any conduct even remotely related to the war on terrorism.

The key informant in the case, Craig Monteilh, turned against the FBI and described how his agency handlers taught him to ingratiate himself into the Orange County Muslim community then secretly gather cell phone numbers, email addresses and record conversations.

Monteilh claims the FBI even told him to talk openly about jihad in an attempt to solicit terrorist sentiments from community members. But instead of responding to his violent rhetoric, mosque-goers called the FBI to say they were worried about his statements.

Holder’s declaration came in a motion to dismiss the bulk of a lawsuit filed against the FBI in February by the ACLU of Southern California and the Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Many of the allegations were based on Monteilh’s claims.

The FBI has said it does not initiate counterterrorism operations based solely on a group’s religion.

Okay, then prove that in court. That’s a perfectly valid legal argument. Make it. Don’t deny American citizens the right to have their day in court. The only thing the SSP does is ensure that the checks and balances built into the constitution are rendered absolutely meaningless.

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