The case involves the FBI’s use of an informant who posed as a convert to Islam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and attended mosques in California.
June 7, 2021, 12:25 PM EDTBy Pete Williams
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to take up the federal government’s claim that allowing a civil rights lawsuit filed by Muslims in California to proceed would reveal secrets that could damage national security.
The case involves the FBI’s use of an informant who posed as a convert to Islam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and attended mosques for more than a year in Orange County. According to the lawsuit, he struck up conversations and attended meetings and lectures, sometimes secretly recording them.
The effort “explicitly targeted Muslims because of their religion,” violating their religious freedom, a lawyer for the Muslims told the Supreme Court.
“The explicit purpose of this operation was to gather information on Muslims in Orange County — not terrorists, spies, or even ordinary criminals, but Muslims,” they said.
The Justice Department moved to block the suit in federal court by asserting the state secrets privilege, which courts have recognized for more than a hundred years. Revealing evidence about whether any particular person was the subject of an FBI counter-terrorism investigation, “the reasons for any such investigation, and the particular sources and methods used” would harm national security, government lawyers said in their Supreme Court submission.