National Freedom of Information Coalition
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Feds fight to prevent NSA disclosures in criminal cases

From TalkingPointsMemo: Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and Sen. Diane Feinstein have put federal prosecutors in quite a bind after they made public comments about the use of secret NSA surveillance in terrorism investigations.

Now defense attorneys in a Florida case are turning the words of those top officials against prosecutors, urging a federal court to force the federal government to disclose whether it obtained evidence against their client through a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FAA, which has been at the center of the Edward Snowden leaks.

In a Tuesday filing (see below), attorneys for Raees Alam Qazi — who was charged with planning to blow up a bomb in New York City last December — argued that federal prosecutors were obligated to disclose to them if secret surveillance had been used in the investigation.

“This lack of candor is deeply troubling because it continues a pattern of cases in which government prosecutors have failed to provide notice of FAA surveillance to criminal defendants,” the defense attorneys wrote. “Because of this lack of notice, the warrantless surveillance program has never been subjected to judicial review in any public courtroom.”

But the real conundrum for prosecutors: The defense is using the words of the top government attorney in the country and one of its foremost senators to make its case.

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