Now here’s an interesting case. A group of Muslims is suing the FBI, claiming religious discrimination over surveillance that the feds carried out a few years after 9/11. The hard-Left ACLU and the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are siding with the plaintiffs, which ordinarily would be a massive red flag impugning their case, but the FBI’s entire case is based on its trustworthiness as an institution. And after all we have seen over the last few years, can anyone really trust the FBI?
Time Magazine reported Thursday that the case is based on the activities of a reckless FBI informant and apparent entrapment artist named Craig Monteilh, who pretended to convert to Islam and spied on several Southern California mosques. Time notes that Monteilh, “who had served time for fraud, left his key fob and mobile phone in places to record conversations when he was not around. He recorded hundreds of hours of video inside mosques, homes, and businesses. He told two other Muslims that ‘we should bomb something.’ He says he was told by his FBI handlers to date Muslim women and have sex with them to get more information.” Could the FBI really have been this clumsy and stupid? Why, yes.
This operation is the basis for the lawsuit. A Muslim named Ali Malik hosted Islamic prayers at his home in Irvine, Calif., and contends that the FBI spied on the meetings for prayer without sufficient cause to do so. He and two others sued, “accusing the agency of religious discrimination and unlawful government surveillance.”
On Thursday, the case, FBI v. Fazaga, came before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, there are unlikely to be any courtroom dramatics, as the FBI is basing its entire case on secret stuff that it has no intention of revealing. “The government argues that all the plaintiffs’ claims alleging religious discrimination need to be dismissed because it has secret evidence that would exonerate the FBI if made public.” The feds assert that as a result, the case should just be thrown out; they say in a legal filing that “since the court cannot hear evidence as to who the FBI investigated or why, it cannot adjudicate whether the government targeted Plaintiffs based on their religion.”
For their part, Malik and co. “argue that they don’t need secret evidence to win their argument and that the case should proceed without this information,” especially in light of the fact that “the government has so far not invoked the state secrets privilege for allegations of unlawful surveillance.” An ACLU attorney, Mohammad Tajsar, points out that the feds frequently use this state secrets defense, which, he says, “has basically prevented judicial oversight over a whole bunch of desperately abusive national security-related policies—things like warrantless wiretapping and extrajudicial assassination.”
The state secrets defense should be called the “Trust me, bro” defense. In resorting to it so often, the FBI is essentially justifying its activities on the basis of its reputation. It is saying that it can’t tell us why it engaged in the activities over which it is being sued, and so we simply have to take its word that everything was entirely on the up and up.
But after the Russian Collusion hoax, the fake Jan. 6 insurrection, and now the indictment of Donald Trump, how wise would it be to sit back and trust the Justice Department without demanding any kind of accountability? The FBI should be able to give some idea of what it has in the FBI v. Fazaga case without compromising national security.
The FBI has so comprehensively betrayed the trust of the American people in the last few years, beginning with the little-noted fact that an FBI informant was encouraging two Islamic jihadis who had been in contact with ISIS to attack our free speech event in Garland, Texas, in 2015, that it cannot be trusted to be acting in the best interests of anyone but itself. It could be surveilling these people just to justify its counterterror budget.
Obviously, the courts shouldn’t force the FBI to reveal compromising information, but the bottom line is clear: the FBI has no right to call for trust when it has so frequently and comprehensively betrayed the trust that the American people once had in it.