The Justice Department recently questioned military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay about whether photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully provided to detainees charged with organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Investigators are looking into allegations that laws protecting classified information were breached when three lawyers showed their clients the photographs, the sources said. The lawyers were apparently attempting to identify CIA officers and contractors involved in the agency's interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects in facilities outside the United States, where the agency employed harsh techniques.
If detainees at the U.S. military prison in Cuba are tried, either in federal court or by a military commission, defense lawyers are expected to attempt to call CIA personnel to testify.
The photos were taken by researchers hired by the John Adams Project, a joint effort of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to support military counsel at Guantanamo Bay, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the inquiry. It was unclear whether the Justice Department is also examining those organizations.
Both groups have long said that they will zealously investigate the CIA's interrogation program at "black sites" worldwide as part of the defense of their clients. But government investigators are now looking into whether the defense team went too far by allegedly showing the detainees the photos of CIA officers, in some cases surreptitiously taken outside their homes...
Tracking international CIA-chartered flights, researchers have identified hotels in Europe where CIA personnel or contractors stayed. In some cases, through hotel phone records, they have been able to identify agency employees who jeopardized their cover by dialing numbers in the United States. Working from these lists, some of which include up to 45 names, researchers photographed agency workers and obtained other photos from public records, the sources said.Remember the hue and cry and media group-think when one CIA paper shuffler was allegedly outed in a phony scandal? Now we have what appears to be a real, legitimate threat to the safety of multiple U.S. counterterrorism operatives. What of their privacy rights? And would John Adams really approve?