SANTA ANA – Documents connected to surveillance of several Islamic organizations and Muslim leaders will not be released, but a federal judge strongly rebuked the government for lying about the existence of the documents to the federal court.
Government officials fighting the release of the documents argued it lied about the documents to not compromise national security, but in a decision issued Wednesday, Judge Cormac J. Carney said, “the Government’s argument is untenable.”
“The Government cannot, under any circumstances, affirmatively mislead the Court,” he stated. “The Government’s representations were then, and remain today, blatantly false.”
Cormac’s decision revolves around a five-year battle between six Islamic organizations and five leaders in the Muslim community, who issued a public records request with the FBI in 2006. The request was issued on behalf of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Council on American Islamic Relations, Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley, Islamic Center of Hawthorne, West Coast Islamic Center and Human Assistance and Development International. The request was issued on suspicions that the FBI was engaging on illegal surveillance of Muslim communities.
A year after the request was submitted, the FBI released a total of four pages to the plaintiffs.
After a suit was filed, the FBI stated it had then identified 120 pages of redacted pages.
It was when the judge asked to review the FBI’s documents, to determine whether the redactions were proper, that the FBI revealed it had misled the organizations who filed the suit – and the court – about the existence of several other documents because of national security.
Federal government officials also argued that disclosing the fact they had lied about the documents would also compromise national security. The judge disagreed.
“The Court is convinced that what the Government did here was wrong,” Cormac wrote in the decision.