CHICAGO (AP) — The federal government conceded in a Thursday filing in Chicago that they must notify defendants in terrorism cases if evidence from once-secret government surveillance programs will be used against them, echoing a recent filing in Florida.
But their six-page filing denies the evidence they intend to use against 19-year-old Adel Daoud — who is accused of trying to ignite what he thought was a car bomb in Chicago — derived from the expanded surveillance that is now a topic of national debate.
“Thus no further relief (for Daoud) is required or appropriate,” the filing says.
Daoud’s attorneys have said they believe expanded surveillance was used and in June they asked the presiding judge to order the government to provide more details about its investigation, saying they want to challenge the constitutionality of the methods.
Recent leaks by a former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have revealed the expanded nature of the government’s phone and Internet surveillance programs.
Reacting to Thursday’s filing, Daoud attorney Thomas Durkin told The Associated Press that he believes it shows prosecutors feared the surveillance issue could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It is perfectly clear to me that the NSA is giving the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney’s office marching orders to avoid a constitutional challenge at all cost,” he said.
A spokesman for federal prosecutors in Chicago, Randall Samborn, declined comment Thursday.
Daoud, a U.S. citizen, has pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and other charges. His trial is set to begin Feb. 3.
Until recently, the position of federal prosecutors appeared to be that they were not required to disclose any role played by broad surveillance.
But they appear to have signaled a change of course with the Daoud filing and with a recent filing in a Miami case involving two Pakistani-born brothers, Raees and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, accused of plotting to bomb New York City.
In a July 29 filing in the Qazi case, prosecutors acknowledged that they must tell terrorist suspects if evidence gleaned from broadened surveillance programs will be used against them.
As in Daoud’s case, however, the Miami prosecutors added that no notice will be provided the Qazis because prosecutors don’t intend to use such evidence against them. Both men, who are naturalized U.S. citizens, have pleaded not guilty.
Lawyers for the Qazi brothers and Daoud also wanted the underlying information used to obtain surveillance warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That might include phone numbers swept up by the NSA, which the government would then use to get warrants for such investigative tools as phone wiretaps.
But the government has said in the Qazi and Daoud cases that they are not required to go that far.
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