United States v. Daoud, No. 14-1284 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Daoud, an 18-year-old American citizen, had an email conversation with undercover FBI employees posing as terrorists who responded to messages that he had posted online. Daoud planned “violent jihad” and discussed his interest in committing attacks in the U.S, using bomb-making instructions that he had read in Inspire magazine, an English-language organ of Al Qaeda, and online. Daoud selected a Chicago bar as the target of a bomb that the agent would supply. The agent told him the bomb would destroy the building and would kill “hundreds” of people. Daoud replied: “that’s the point.” On September 14, 2012, Daoud parked a Jeep containing the fake bomb in front of the bar. In an alley, in the presence of the agent, he tried to detonate the fake bomb and was arrested. In jail, he tried to solicit someone to murder the undercover agent with whom he had dealt. The government notified Daoud, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C. 1801, that it intended to present evidence derived from electronic surveillance conducted under the Act. His attorney sought access to the classified materials submitted in support of the government’s FISA warrant applications. The government supplied a heavily redacted, unclassified response and a classified version, accessible only to the court with a statement that disclosure “would harm the national security.” The harm was detailed in a classified affidavit signed by the FBI’s Acting Assistant Director for Counterterrorism. The district judge ordered the materials sought by defense counsel turned over. In an interlocutory appeal, the Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that in addition to having the requisite security clearance the seeker of such information must establish need to know.