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CAIR Depositions of FBI, DHS, CBP, TSA Officials Reveal Previously-Undisclosed Traveler Surveillance Program, Watchlisting Advisory Council

(WASHINGTON, DC, 3/13/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released transcripts of CAIR’s depositions of high-ranking government officials with the FBI, DHS, CBP, and TSA documenting a previously-undisclosed traveler surveillance program and a body that oversees the terror watchlist.

CAIR says the transcripts, along with dozens of documents CAIR obtained in the case Elhady v. Kable, “reveal a terror watchlist system run amok.”  

[NOTE: CAIR filed the transcripts in connection with Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment in Elhady v. Kable, a leading constitutional challenge to the watchlist. The transcripts are part of more than 4,000 pages of public documents regarding the watchlist unearthed in the case. Judge Trenga has set a hearing on the challenge on April 4, 2019, at the Eastern District of Virginia courthouse in Alexandria, Va.]

The deposition transcripts document in detail for the first time a TSA program called “Silent Partner” that appears to be an invasive traveler-surveillance program. They document DHS efforts to screen private sector employees against the terror watchlist in order to compel employers to fire listees. Also, for the first time, these documents identify the Watchlisting Advisory Council, a supra-agency body that oversees the terror watchlist.  

On Monday, CAIR lawyers provided a federal court in Alexandria, Va., with information collected during the lawsuit as part of a move to end the ability of federal officials to put innocent Muslims — Americans who have not been arrested, charged, or convicted of a terrorism-related offense — on their watchlist.  

The court filing asserts that the Watchlisting System imposes “a kind of second-class citizenship on the Plaintiffs and thousands of American Muslims throughout the country.”


The transcripts that are described in the brief were of depositions CAIR took over the past 13 months.  







“Things like the extra-judicial watchlisting system, unprecedented in our nation’s history, are incompatible with liberty and due process,” said CAIR Litigation Director Lena Masri. “We are optimistic that the evidence CAIR has compiled for the better part of a decade makes this incompatibility clear to the court, to the public, to Congress, and most importantly, to the thousands of innocent Muslims targeted by the federal government’s watchlisting system.”

“The depositions of the government’s representatives reveal a terror watchlist system run amok,” said CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “This is a fight we can win.”

A judge in the case recently ordered the government to let CAIR’s attorneys see the list of private entities that had access to the watchlist, but they were not allowed to take notes or make copies of that list.  The judge, however, unsealed CAIR filings that indicate the terror watchlist is shared with animal shelters, private investigative firms, a megachurch, as well as individual people who appear to be able to access watchlist information from their own personal devices.  

Rights Group CAIR: Terror Watchlist Shared with Animal Shelters

CAIR called on the government to cease dissemination of the list to private entities.

SEE: CAIR Calls on FBI to Cease Dissemination of Government Watchlist to Animal Shelters, Private Investigators, Megachurch, Others

For years, CAIR has represented innocent Muslims — people who have not been charged, arrested, or convicted of a violent offense — who have been targeted by the watchlisting system. Some have lost jobs, been separated from their families, and all have been stigmatized by being treated as “terrorists” by their own government.

SEE: Detroit Mother Calls Out Feds for Breaking Up Family, Files Lawsuit

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.


CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 202-742-6420,, CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,


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