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An evidentiary hearing on a motion to suppress ordinarily is required if the moving papers are sufficiently definite, specific, detailed, and nonconjectural to enable the court to conclude that contested issues of fact going to the validity of the search are in question. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances an evidentiary hearing need not be held, provided that in camera procedures will adequately safeguard the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights and that accurate resolution of the factual issues would not have been materially advanced by either disclosure of the information to the defendant or an adversary hearing.
Defendant-appellant Wadih El-Hage, a citizen of the United States, challenges his conviction in the district court on numerous charges arising from his involvement in the August 7, 1998 bombings of the American Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (the "August 7 bombings"). El-Hage contended that the district court erred by (1) recognizing a foreign intelligence exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement, (2) concluding that the search of El-Hage's home and surveillance of his telephone lines qualified for inclusion in that exception, and (3) resolving El-Hage's motion on the basis of an ex parte review of classified materials, without affording El-Hage's counsel access to those materials or holding a suppression hearing.
Was the evidence obtained from the search of El-Hage's Kenyan residence and the surveillance of his Kenyan telephone lines properly admitted at trial?
In light of the limited factual inquiry into evidence of consequence to national security that was necessary to resolve El-Hage’s suppression motion, and because the legal issues were thoroughly briefed by the parties, the district court's decision to resolve El-Hage’s suppression motion without a hearing did not constitute error. The court held that the Fourth Amendment's Warrant Clause had no extraterritorial application and that foreign searches of U.S. citizens conducted by U.S. agents were subject only to the Fourth Amendment's requirement of reasonableness. Moreover, the searches were reasonable and therefore did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The search of El-Hage’s residences were reasonable, as the searches' limited intrusion on defendant's privacy was outweighed by the government's manifest need to monitor his activities as an operative of al Qaeda because of the extreme threat al Qaeda presented to national security. Because the surveillance of suspected al Qaeda operatives had to be sustained and thorough in order to be effective, the court could not conclude that the scope of the government's electronic surveillance was overbroad.