Guardian, ACLU, Asian Law Caucus seeks FBI surveillance records

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The Guardian is joining the Northern California ACLU and the Asian Law Caucus in seeking records of the FBI’s investigation of Muslim communities.

We’re asking the federal government to turn over documents related to the FBI’s use of informants and infiltrators (reportedly used in gyms, community centers and mosques, investigations of Muslim leaders and imams in Northern California and attempts to recruit Muslim and Arab American children.

From a press release announcing our FOIA request:

According to civil rights organizations, community members, and media reports, the FBI has engaged in a deliberate plan to infiltrate Muslim communities through the use of informants and covert actions. Tensions are especially high between the FBI and Muslim groups following the death of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a Detroit cleric who was killed under questionable circumstances during an FBI raid in October 2009. 
“When there are repeated and widespread reports that the FBI is building a dragnet that is detrimental to the lives of innocent Americans, the ACLU and other civil rights organizations must step in,” said Julia Harumi Mass, staff attorney of the ACLU-NC. “The first step is to see all the records regarding the planning and implementation of any such spying and surveillance programs, including those that target children and have a potential chilling effect on free speech and religious practices.”

We’re asking for expedited processing so the public can see how taxpayer dollars are used on surveillance and other covert activities.

The response we get will be a good test of how seriously the Justice Department takes President Obama’s order to make government documents accessible unless there’s a very good reason not to.

We’ll keep you posted. You can read the FOIA letter here.(PDF)