Terror suspect claims rights violations due to FISA - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Terror suspect claims rights violations due to FISA

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Attorneys for terror suspect Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 21, laid out their case Thursday as to why they think federal officials violated Aldawsari's rights when they invoked FISA - the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  

Aldawsari is accused of amassing the materials needed for a chemical bomb in his Central Lubbock apartment.  Court records say he longed for jihad and proposed targets all over the United States.  He was arrested in February and remains locked up until trial.
 
Prior to getting a traditional warrant from the Lubbock federal magistrate, FBI agents treated Aldawsari as the "agent of a foreign power."  Meaning, they searched his apartment, monitored his movements, and monitored his communications just as they would a spy.
 
Among those communications were calls between Aldawsari and CBS (Carolina Biological Supply) pertaining to a dangerous chemical called phenol. 
 
Thursday's motion says, "They knew that Aldawsari was a citizen of Saudi Arabia and was in the United States pursuant to a valid F-1 student visa.  They also knew, from the monitored phone calls between Aldawsari and CBS, that he spoke with an accent and that he attempted to order phenol."
 
Is that enough to deprive Aldawsari of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure?  No, says the defense.
 
"None of this establishes that Aldawsari was a foreign power or agent thereof."
 
The defense team of Dan Cogdell, Paul Doyle and Rod Hobson says, "Permitting warrantless searches and intrusions where the primary purpose is gathering evidence for a criminal prosecution is every bit a violation of the Fourth Amendment today as it was before September 11, 2001."
 
The use of FISA must have "foreign intelligence" as a significant purpose.  Aldawsari's attorneys argue there is just no way the FBI could have been in the business of foreign intelligence when agents first became aware of Aldawsari.  

Instead, the defense argues that the FBI's purpose all along was a criminal investigation and therefore agents broke the law when used FISA instead of traditional law enforcement methods.
 
Defense attorneys seek to have the FISA material thrown out of evidence.  Or, as an alternative, they seek to examine the FISA documents that led to the surveillance of Aldawsari. 
 
Days after the FISA search, FBI agents obtained a traditional search warrant, which netted a mountain of evidence against Aldawsari.  The defense motion essentially asks why do prosecutors even want to use the FISA material when an ordinary search warrant provided a large volume of evidence?
 
The Attorney General of the United States personally intervened in the case, saying that if the defense were allowed to see FISA material it would harm the national security of the United States.  And yet, prosecutors are very clear that they intend to use FISA evidence against Aldawsari at trial.
 
Federal officials are off limits to the news media for any questions to help clarify what's going on.  U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings ordered all federal officials, even those with absolutely no connection to the case whatsoever, to not communicate with the news media about the case.
 
The gag order is under challenge before the Fifth Circuit on grounds of free speech and freedom of the press.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11
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