WASHINGTON — Five California men who say they came under police scrutiny for innocent behavior sued the Obama administration Thursday over an information-sharing program designed by the government to help flag potential terrorist activity in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
The men say law enforcement produced "suspicious activity reports" on them even though they had done nothing wrong. The reports were disseminated in national counterterrorism databases and prompted the FBI in some cases to make house visits, run background checks or open files on them, the men allege.
One plaintiff, an accountant of Egyptian descent, said a report was filed about him after he tried to make a bulk computer purchase for work from Best Buy.
James Prigoff, 86, said he was visited at home by a member of joint-terrorism task force months after trying to photograph a piece of public art in Boston on a natural gas storage tank.
"I lived through the McCarthy era, so I know how false accusations, surveillance and keeping files on innocent people can destroy their careers and lives," he said.