CHICAGO – A 20-year-old facing terrorism charges for allegedly trying to set off a bomb in Chicago has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review aspects of his case that touch on revelations by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
Adel Daoud wants the nation's highest court to agree to hear an appeal of a June ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that denied his lawyers access to secret records of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court. It was Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, who revealed the FISA court had secretly signed off on expanded U.S. phone and Internet spying programs.
Daoud, a U.S citizen from suburban Chicago, has denied allegations that he accepted a phony car bomb from undercover FBI agents, parked it by a downtown Chicago bar and pressed a trigger.
His attorneys provided a copy on Tuesday of their 36-page petition to the high court, which was submitted to the panel in late December. The filing argues that lawyers can't adequately defend Daoud, whose trial is set for later this year, without examining secret FISA court records that federal investigators submitted to obtain a warrant.
Since Congress created the FISA court in 1978, no defense attorneys have ever been allowed to see such warrant applications. And in its June ruling, the 7th Circuit said opening them to Daoud's lawyers could endanger national security.
But Daoud's attorneys argue that the only way they can determine if the government violated his protections against unreasonable searches is by examining the records prosecutors filed with the FISA court.
"Without access to FISA materials, it is virtually impossible for defendants to challenge the lawfulness of the government's surveillance of them," the Daoud petition says. It adds, "That criminal defendants cannot meaningfully exercise these rights ... implicates the rights of nearly all Americans."
The Supreme Court receives around 10,000 requests a year to hear appeals, but agrees to take on fewer than 100, according to the high court's website.