JANUARY 21, 2010
In a victory for national security, a federal appellate court has ruled that the U.S. government had the right to fire a Muslim nuclear physicist who designed military warships and doubled as an Imam denouncing America’s war against Middle Eastern terrorism.
The Egyptian-born physicist (Abdel Moniem Ali El-Ganayni) worked for the government at a Pennsylvania facility (Bettis Laboratory) that designs, constructs, operates and maintains nuclear powered warships for the Department of Energy. In 2007 the government revoked his security clearance after determining that he had “conflicting allegiances” and that he “may be subject to pressure, coercion, exploitation or duress” which may cause him to act “contrary to the best interests of national security.”
The decision was made after the scientist repeatedly spoke out against U.S. foreign policy, the war in Iraq and the FBI at various Pittsburgh-area mosques. El-Ganayni also worked as an Imam at state prisons and got in trouble for violating jail policies by distributing Muslim literature without proper authorization. On one occasion, he circulated a book about Islam that contains a passage about a defense mechanism found in certain ants which allows them to burst their body wall open and spray deadly secretions.
In a 2008 letter explaining the suspension of his security clearance, the government tells El-Ganayni that it has reliable information indicating that he knowingly established sympathetic associations with a saboteur, spy, terrorist, traitor, seditionist, anarchist, revolutionist, espionage agent or representative of a foreign nation whose interests are inimical to the United States.
In a lawsuit against the government, the disgruntled America-bashing scientist accused the Department of Energy of violating his constitutional rights. He also sought a hearing, detailed explanation for his dismissal and an opportunity to contest it. A federal judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania rejected the suit and El-Ganayni appealed.
In upholding the lower court’s ruling dismissing the suit, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said that the Department of Energy does not have to further explain why it fired the Muslim physicist based on “conflicting allegiances.” The three-judge panel in Philadelphia wrote in its decision that El-Ganayni’s claim “could never be meaningfully litigated” and that the “outcome is pre-ordained” due to the Executive Branch’s broad national security powers.
A 1988 Supreme Court ruling involving the Navy establishes that a hearing to contest the dismissal is not available to the Muslim scientist, the 3rd Circuit pointed out, because the presumption that government agency action is reviewable is limited when it comes to national security issues.
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