Attorney for teen terror suspect wants to see secret evidence
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter November 29, 2013 4:40PM
Defense attorney Thomas Durkin for Adel Daoud, charged with terrorism following his arraignment at Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn, Thursday, October 11, 2012. l John H. White~Sun-Times
Updated: January 1, 2014 6:11AM
Attorneys for a teenage terror suspect who allegedly plotted to bomb two neighboring South Loop bars have urged a federal judge to make herself a roadblock at the “fear-laden crossroads” of national security and civil liberties by ordering prosecutors to reveal secret evidence they collected against him using the National Security Agency’s controversial eavesdropping programs.
The lawyers for Adel Daoud hope to turn his case into a legal test of the NSA programs that were unmasked earlier this year in leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Daoud, a 19-year-old Muslim student from west suburban Hillside, is accused of pressing a button that he thought would trigger a bomb and kill dozens of Friday night revellers at Cal’s and The Cactus Bar in Sept. 2012, and of later trying to arrange the murder of the undercover FBI agent who helped set him up.
Prosecutors have vowed they won’t use the enhanced electronic surveillance evidence they secretly gathered against him under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act at his trial in April.
They’re happy to show U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman the secret evidence in private to prove it was collected lawfully — but say showing Daoud’s lawyers the evidence isn’t necessary and would threaten national security.
But in court papers filed this week, Daoud’s attorney, Thomas Durkin, called that “a fake choice between national security and civil rights, not unlike the fake war being conducted in our name against terror.”
Urging Coleman to force prosecutors to turn the evidence over, he added “All that is required to avoid another draconian step down this slippery and unconstitutional slope towards a permanent national security state is the attention of the independent federal judiciary — the only players in our bankrupt system of government insulated from the absurd political winds of fear.”
The programs include the “dragnet acquisition of third party telephone records or ‘telephony metadata,’ not just of Daoud, but virtually any American who uses a telephone,” he argued, adding that Daoud can’t mount a proper defense unless his attorneys can test the legality of how the government began its investigation.
Prosecutors countered that “there is nothing extraordinary about this case that would prompt this Court to be the first to order the disclosure of highly sensitive and classified FISA materials.”
Coleman initially ruled that Daoud’s attorneys weren’t entitled to see the evidence, but in September vacated that ruling, reopening the debate.
Daoud is one of several young Muslim terror suspects who have been caught in undercover FBI stings in Chicago over recent years. His strange behavior in court — where he has smiled and chuckled his way through hearings, as if unaware of his dire situation — have fed Durkin’s allegations that he was at worst an impressionable ‘wannabe’ who could never have plotted a bombing without FBI help.
U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon, however, last week pointed to the Boston Marathon bombings as evidence of the dangers that radicalized young terrorists can pose, even without outside assistance.