WASHINGTON – While attorneys representing the co-author of "Muslim Mafia" were preparing late today to honor a federal court order to return documents obtained from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in an independent undercover operation, FBI agents served a warrant on a Washington, D.C., law office for the same documents.
The FBI agents entered the capital law offices of Cozen O'Connor tonight and issued a warrant for thousands of pages of documents as well as audio and video recordings gathered by P. David Gaubatz and his son Chris in a daring and lengthy undercover penetration of CAIR in which the younger Gaubatz served as an unpaid intern for the group that was labeled an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in last year's Holy Land Foundation trial.
CAIR claimed in a lawsuit that Gaubatz removed its papers and made recordings of employees "without any consent or authorization and in violation of his contractual fiduciary and other legal obligations."
A federal judge in Washington issued a restraining order Nov. 3 barring the Gaubatzes from further use or publication of the material – 12,000 pages of documents along with audio and video recordings – and demanding that they return it to the Muslim group's lawyers.
However, last night the FBI stepped in with a warrant, suggesting the agency wants to see the papers and examine the recordings as part of its interest in CAIR and its Muslim Brotherhood links.
Joseph Farah, chief executive officer of WND and its subsidiary, WND Books, who has been raising money for the defense of his author and son, welcomed the FBI's interest in the papers.
"Obviously, we were prepared to honor the court order from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly," he said.
Kollar-Kotelly – who as head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court made several controversial decisions against the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies – was criticized recently by many security experts for ruling against the military's designation of a Guantanamo detainee as an enemy combatant, allowing the Obama administration to send him home.
"Now," said Farah, "we will have to confer with the attorneys to determine what happens next. Which takes precedence – a federal court order or an FBI warrant? I trust this will be sorted out in the days to come.
Personally, I would like to see these papers in the hands of trained FBI investigators. The revelations raised about CAIR in 'Muslim Mafia' have clearly piqued the agency's interest."
In fact, adds Farah, "I would say the nature of this warrant and the way it was served strongly suggests the FBI doesn't want these documents returned to CAIR – where they were destined to be destroyed in the first place. We have always believed, as the Gaubatzes did, that there is valuable evidence here vital to the nation's security."
The FBI's grand-jury subpoena is intended to preserve the status quo and not intended to require the Gaubatzes' legal counsel to turn over the documents immediately – or before notifying Judge Kollar-Kotelly.
CAIR contends the documents were stolen. David Gaubatz insists the research described in his book, including securing the documents, "was conducted professionally and legally" in cooperation with law enforcement officials. Much of the relevant material is already in the hands of the FBI, he said.
The Gaubatzes are being represented by high-profile First Amendment specialist Martin Garbus, most famous for representing Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case.
Garbus is teamed with Bernard Grimm of Cozen O'Connor in Washington and Daniel Horowitz in the San Francisco Bay area. Horowitz, a frequent TV legal analyst, represented talk-radio host Michael Savage in his lawsuit against CAIR.
Grimm also is a regular commentator on the Fox News Channel, CNN and Court TV.