The Bay Guardian has joined the ACLU of Northern California and the Asian Law Caucus in suing the FBI to demand access to records of federal agents spying on Muslim communities and organizations.
We filed a Freedom of Information Act request five months ago, seeking access to key records, including documents that would show how the FBI is:
• investigating Islamic centers and mosques (as well as Christian churches and Jewish synagogues);
• “assessing” religious leaders;
• infiltrating communities through the use of undercover agents and informants;
• training agents in Islam and Muslim culture;
• using race, religion and national origin in deciding whom to investigate; and
• identifying particular schools for its Junior Agent Program.
The FBI has not released the documents, leaving us no choice but to file suit. The law firm of Morrison and Foerster is representing the plaintiffs pro bono. (Thanks, MoFo.)
“Clear information about the FBI’s activities is necessary in order to understand the scope of their surveillance tactics to assess whether they have had a chilling effect on the right to worship freely or to exercise other forms of expression,” said Julia Harumi Mass, staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California.
“This lawsuit is about transparency. The public is entitled to this information under the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI admitted in March that our clients’ FOIA requests are entitled to expedited processing because of the widespread media attention on these issues, but the government has yet to provide them a single document,” said attorney Raj Chatterjee of Morrison & Foerster.
There's plenty of evidence that the feds are engaged in dubious, perhaps unlawful surveillance of Muslim communities. Check out this, and this and this. We're hoping to shed some light on what the FBI is really doing here.
You can see a copy of the complaint here (pdf)