Supreme Court Overturns Special National Security-Related Cases

Supreme Court Overturns Special National Security-Related Cases
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( – On Thursday, March 3, the United States Supreme Court ruled on two important national security-related cases. One decision was unanimous, and in the other, a strong majority prevailed. Both cases dealt with Muslim community members, and the court’s ruling could have impacted the government’s ability to conduct counterintelligence gathering operations.

In Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga, three Muslims claimed the FBI illegally conducted surveillance against them. They alleged the nation’s leading law enforcement agency racially and religiously profiled them to attain a surveillance warrant from the secretive FISA court. To protect secrets that might otherwise threaten national security, the government invoked state secrets privilege.

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed a 9th Circuit Court’s ruling for the plaintiffs. It determined the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) didn’t end the state secret privilege during a counterintelligence investigation as interpreted by the lower court and awarded the government relief.

In United States v. Abu Zubaydah, the High Court ruled the federal government could invoke the state secrets privilege. The case dealt with two government contractors who wanted to testify about the government’s treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees subjected to waterboarding over two decades ago. The 7-2 majority once again overruled the 9th Circuit Court, which had said the information was no longer secret. Nonetheless, the government argued privilege applied because it would force the CIA to confirm the location of a secret detention site in Poland.

Lawmakers often skate the razor’s edge when seeking a balance between upholding national security and protecting individual rights. These two cases are prime examples of the complex issues judges must weigh when deciding whether to reveal sensitive information and keeping the country secure.

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