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Physicist Sues Feds Over Questionable Lost Security Clearance

A few weeks ago, we began tracking the case of Abdel Moniem Ali el-Ganayni, a nuclear physicist working for a Department of Energy contractor who lost his security clearance and then his job under questionable circumstances. El-Ganayni, a naturalized citizen who has lived in the U.S. for 27 years, was not accused of any security breaches. Rather, after his security was suspended, he was questioned by FBI agents about comments he made at a local mosque that were critical of the U.S.'s role in Iraq. Normally, those who have their security clearance revoked get a hearing. That didn't happen in El-Ganayni's case.

As the Pittburgh Post-Gazette, which was the first to report on the case, explained:

The decision to revoke Dr. El-Ganayni's clearance without holding a hearing was made by acting Deputy Secretary of Energy Jeffrey F. Kupfer, a Bush administration insider who grew up in Squirrel Hill.

Mr. Kupfer certified that the appeals process set forth in [Department of Energy] regulations "cannot be made available ... without damaging the interests of national security by revealing classified information. ... I hereby terminate Mr. El-Ganayni's access to classified information in the interests of national security."

When we last spoke with El-Ganayni's lawyer, he said his client was preparing to sue. That's now happened -- and The New York Times is covering it. As El-Ganayni's lawyer told the Times:

“Our contention is that the reason the D.O.E. invoked national security here was to relieve themselves of the responsibility of having to tell us what’s going on,” said Witold Walczak, one of Dr. Ganayni’s lawyers and legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

The Times also tried to get an explanation from the Energy Department -- and received the same response we did: "This is a personal security matter as to which the department has no public comment."

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