News and legal organizations are seeking access to information about a detention case now before the U.S. Supreme Court that has been handled with unusual secrecy in the federal courts, the New York Times says. The case was filed by the federal public defender in Miami on behalf of Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel, an Algerian-born resident of South Florida who was one of more than 1,000 Arab men imprisoned following the terrorist attacks of 2001.
A brief to be filed today by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on behalf of 23 media organizations and other groups requests permission to intervene in the case. The coalition would argue that all information about the case should be made public except for material that is classified or “truly required for national security purposes” to be secret.
Much of the information available comes from The Miami Daily Business Review, which learned about the case in March when it was pending at the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta. After Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson told the court that the U.S. would have no response to the petition, the court directed the government to respond. That brief also is due today.
Bellahouel was a waiter in a Delray Beach, Fla., restaurant that the Federal Bureau of Investigation says was patronized by at least two Sept. 11 hijackers. The government has not charged Bellahouel with terrorism-related crimes and apparently does not regard him as a threat.