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More on the CIA and the Gitmo Lawyers

5:55 PM, Jun 30, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Mother Jones (!) has a useful article on organizations that are working hard to out CIA operatives. At the very least, the article sheds a bit of light on why these organizations -- specifically the John Adams Project -- have devoted so much time and energy to this cause. Many of these folks, of course, blame the Bush administration for their tactics, saying, according to the authors of this article, "it was the Kafkaesque military commissions process that drove the group to such desperate measures."

The ACLU's John Adams Project worked to discover the identities of CIA operatives. Several pro-detainee lawyers, who showed pictures of suspected CIA agents to Gitmo inmates to confirm whether they were interrogators, are now working in the Justice Department.

In the March 29, 2010 issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Debra Burlingame and Thomas Joscelyn detailed what's going on with the CIA and the lawyers: 

Last week, Bill Gertz of the Washington Times broke news of a fight between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Justice. The CIA wants Justice to investigate aggressively whether any laws were broken by attorneys working for the John Adams Project, a joint initiative of the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The lawyers reportedly provided photographs of CIA interrogators to defense attorneys, who then showed them to al Qaeda terrorists held at Guantánamo Bay. 

Why would lawyers do that? Gertz says it was done “in an attempt to have the terrorism suspects identify the interrogators in order to call them as witnesses in future trials.” The John Adams Project’s lawyers wanted to use court proceedings intended to try mass-murdering terrorists for another purpose: to put the Bush administration and the CIA on trial. 

Although CIA officials say the pictures compromised the agency’s ongoing operations and could potentially lead to reprisals against the interrogators, Attorney General Eric Holder’s department apparently does not think the photos are all that important. During discussions with the CIA, the department’s lawyers have reportedly downplayed the seriousness of the offense. And the CIA is not happy about it. 

“Given the events of the past year there is concern in the agency over whether or not someone has their back,” a former senior intelligence official explained to us. “A failure to aggressively follow up these allegations will only worsen that concern.”

Gertz attributes the Justice Department’s reticence to particular lawyers within the department who are “sympathetic to the John Adams Project.” One Justice Department lawyer who is clearly sympathetic is Jennifer Daskal, who previously worked for Human Rights Watch and was appointed by Holder to the Justice Department’s Detainee Policy Task Force last year. Prior to joining the government, Daskal was an outspoken critic of the CIA and the interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration. 

President Bush “will go down in history as the torture president,” Daskal told the Associated Press in March 2008. “The Bush administration continues to insist that CIA and other nonmilitary interrogators are not bound by the military rules and has reportedly given CIA interrogators the green light to use a range of so-called ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques, including prolonged sleep deprivation, painful stress positions, and exposure to extreme cold,” Daskal added.

Daskal’s anti-CIA activism was not limited to making hyperbolic statements to the press. Daskal and Human Rights Watch played a significant role in uncovering the CIA’s secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, where top terrorists were detained and interrogated. 

Read it here.

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