Judges Hold “Secret Hearing” On Intelligence Court Records In Terror Trial

A federal appeals panel in Chicago held a highly unusual closed-door session with federal officials yesterday after debating in public whether attorneys for a local terrorism suspect should be allowed to view confidential surveillance documents filed in the case, the Chicago Tribune reports. In 30 minutes of arguments open to the public, prosecutor William Ridgway urged the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a trial court’s ruling granting lawyers for Adel Daoud unprecedented access to records of a secret intelligence court, saying it could harm national security.

Judge Richard Posner announced the public portion of the proceedings had concluded and ordered the courtroom cleared so the judges could hold a “secret hearing.” Daoud's attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, rose to object, but Posner did not acknowledge him. Deputy U.S. marshals ordered everyone out. Durkin, a veteran Chicago lawyer, said he was not notified in advance that there would be a secret hearing and called the move unprecedented. “Not only do I not get to be there, but I didn't even get to object,” Durkin said. “I had to object over the fact that I couldn't even make an objection.” It was the latest illustration of the lightning rod Daoud's case has become in the fallout over controversial government spying programs revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Daoud, now 20, is facing trial on charges he plotted to set off a bomb outside a bar.

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