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Alleged teen terrorist’s lawyers call for fed surveillance program data

Adel Daoud | phofrom U.S. Marshal's office

Adel Daoud | photo from U.S. Marshal's office

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Updated: February 5, 2014 6:04AM

Lawyers for an alleged teenage terrorist urged a federal judge on Friday to “step up” and “restore lost faith” in the U.S. justice system by allowing them to see any evidence that was collected against their client using the National Security Agency’s controversial Internet and telephone snooping programs.

Adel Daoud, 19, of Hillside, is accused of plotting to blow up a pair of neighboring South Loop bars in Sept. 2012, and of later trying to arrange the murder of an FBI agent who helped set him up.

His attorneys don’t dispute that he pressed a button that the feds say he believed would destroy the Cactus Bar and Cal’s Liquors.

But they hope to make his case a rare test of the enhanced surveillance techniques uncovered last year by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

During an impassioned argument Friday, Daoud’s attorney Joshua Herman said it was “not tin-foil hat paranoia” to believe Daoud was first identified by the feds as a target for “entrapment” by agents who were using unconstitutional Internet surveillance to monitor details of his family’s religious pilgrimage to Mecca in 2011.

It’s a crucial detail — if the case was built on an unconstitutional warrantless data collection, any evidence gathered against Daoud in the subsequent sting operation might also be ruled unconstitutional.

Prosecutors say they used only traditional electronic surveillance to build the case, arguing that Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman should follow “decades of precedence” and deny Daoud’s lawyers’ request.

But Thomas Durkin, who also represents Daoud, told Johnson Coleman he can’t take prosecutors’ word for it without seeing all the evidence himself. Both he and Herman said they don’t believe the NSA has turned over everything it has on Daoud to the U.S. Attorneys office.

“We don’t know that they know everything that they don’t know,” Herman told Johnson, echoing former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s famous “known unknowns” speech about the Iraq war.

Durkin added America is “at a crossroads” when it comes to government surveillance and that it needs an independent judiciary to reign in the NSA.

The government is using “the exaggerated fear of foreign terrorism” to undermine justice and deny defendants’ lawyers access to evidence, he said, telling Johnson Coleman to “step up and say the time has come” to end the secrecy that bans even lawyers with security clearance like Durkin and Herman from seeing evidence gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Daoud’s legal team face an uphill struggle to convince Coleman Johnson to give them access to the FISA materials.

No court has previously allowed defendants’ lawyers unfettered access to the FISA materials, and Coleman gave several hints she wasn’t impressed by Durkin, calling his arguments about the Snowden revelations “grandiose” and suggesting they had “nothing to do with this case.”

She has yet to rule. Daoud is due to stand trial in April.


Twitter: @kimjnews

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