CIA says attorney access at Gitmo has placed agent lives in danger

posted at 2:00 pm on March 31, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In the controversy over the Obama administration’s appointment of former defense attorneys of Gitmo detainees to key Justice Department positions, the CIA decided to investigate whether the DoJ took seriously the threat to its agents of exposure in the adjudication processes.  The answer: not really.  Alarmed at the dismissive attitude of Justice, the CIA has requested the services of a man at the center of another agent-exposure controversy:

A team of CIA counterintelligence officials recently visited the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and concluded that CIA interrogators face the risk of exposure to al Qaeda through inmates’ contacts with defense attorneys, according to U.S. officials.

The agency’s “tiger team” of security specialists was dispatched as part of an ongoing investigation conducted jointly with the Justice Department into a program backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The program, called the John Adams Project, has photographed covert CIA interrogators and shown the pictures to some of the five senior al Qaeda terrorists held there in an effort to identify them further.

Details of the review could not be learned. However, the CIA team came away from the review, conducted the week of March 14, “very concerned” that agency personnel have been put in danger by military rules allowing interaction between the five inmates and defense attorneys, according to an intelligence source close to the review. …

The joint investigation, which recently added U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald to the Justice Department team, was stepped up earlier this month after a disagreement between Justice Department and CIA officials over whether CIA officers’ lives were put in danger at the prison.

Fitzgerald’s addition to the mix makes the contrast between the Plame exposure and the attitude of Democrats to the security concerns now even more stark.  When Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA analyst at Langley was leaked (by Richard Armitage at State), Democrats demanded a full-scale investigation and threatened prosecution for treason.  In that case, though, Plame had arranged for her husband to conduct a mission which he then publicized by first leaking misleading elements of his report to the Washington Post and the New York Times before publishing his own op-ed.  When people wondered how Joe Wilson got that assignment, Armitage leaked the information to the late Robert Novak.

In this case, though, the leaks are much more malicious.  Instead of leaking the name of a stateside analyst with a publicity-hungry husband to the media, the defense attorneys appear to have leaked the identities of covert agents working to defeat foreign terrorists to the terrorists themselves.  If the terrorists get Internet access, they can pass that information to their cohorts running free around the world and allow them to target the front lines of America’s defense against their plots.

One might think that the DoJ would take that kind of intelligence breach seriously, but the CIA apparently found otherwise:

The prosecutor was called into the case after agency officials voiced worries that Justice Department investigators did not share their level of concern over the danger that al Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo, including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, could secretly send information on the identities of CIA officers to al Qaeda terrorists outside the prison through the attorneys.

That’s not a hypothetical scenario.  That exact set of circumstances occurred with Lynn Stewart, whose communications on behalf of the Blind Sheikh caused several deaths in terrorist attacks in the 1990s during his trial for the first attack on the World Trade Center.  Andy McCarthy, who prosecuted that case, adds more real-life examples to Stewart’s:

As I noted in a column Monday, while Jennifer Daskal was an attorney at the leftist Human Rights Watch (HRW) — and functioning as a tireless advocate for the al-Qaeda detainees — she played a key role in HRW’s 2005 exposure of the CIA’s secret detention of top terrorists in Europe and elsewhere. At The Weekly Standard, Debra Burlingame and Tom Joscelyn have recounted that HRW was able to compromise the CIA agents by tracking CIA-chartered flights, among other things. Since early 2009, Daskal — who has no prosecutorial experience — has been working in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, recruited by Attorney General Eric Holder to work on detainee policy.

Small wonder the CIA hasn’t been impressed with the DoJ — and why they called in Fitzgerald.  It’s very interesting that a Democratic administration seems a lot less interested in protecting CIA agents now than Democrats were in 2003.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Lynn Stewart is smokin’ hot though.

Bishop on March 31, 2010 at 2:04 PM

There are some people more equal than others under this bho and team! Sure isn’t American’s, IMO.
L

letget on March 31, 2010 at 2:06 PM

So showing the prisoners of war the CIA people’s photos and then letting them go is a problem …

tarpon on March 31, 2010 at 2:07 PM

There will never again be a Senator Joe McCarthy or a House committee on Un-American Activities, because the left, their sympathizers in the media and other useful idiots have made it impossible for anyone to point out that there really are Marxists agents inside our government, Glenn Beck not withstanding. Who believes Beck? Only right wing extremists nut cases, right?

Skandia Recluse on March 31, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Ok, this is no longer simply “standing up for the principles of justice by defending even the worst of the worst”, this is aiding and abetting our enemies.

What person with even half a brain thinks it’s a good idea to show pictures of our CIA agents to our enemies?

Outrage over this coming from Democrats in 5, 4, 3, 2, never.

rbj on March 31, 2010 at 2:11 PM

it feels treasonous…this is unfreakinbelievable…

cmsinaz on March 31, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Since early 2009, Daskal — who has no prosecutorial experience — has been working in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, recruited by Attorney General Eric Holder to work on detainee policy

no bloody experience??!!!

cmsinaz on March 31, 2010 at 2:13 PM

“It’s very interesting that a Democratic administration seems a lot less interested in protecting CIA agents now than Democrats were in 2003.”

I sure hope a new Congress next year asks the question as to “why?”…

Seven Percent Solution on March 31, 2010 at 2:14 PM

It’s very interesting that a Democratic administration seems a lot less interested in protecting CIA agents now than Democrats were in 2003.

Protecting? Hell, they want to PROSECUTE them! Besides, I’m sure Eric Holder (anyone want a pardon?) will tell you “Things are different now.”

GarandFan on March 31, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Treason doth never prosper,
And what’s the reason?
For when it prospereth,
None dare call it treason.

Akzed on March 31, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Ken Starr…got something to say to Liz Cheney now ?

macncheez on March 31, 2010 at 2:17 PM

“Scooter” Libby is available for comment…

Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on March 31, 2010 at 2:21 PM

It sounds like the CIA is “going rogue” from this administration; If he won’t protect them, they’ll protect themselves. While I don’t blame them, it is a deeply unsettling precedent.

Exurban Jon on March 31, 2010 at 2:29 PM

But the CIA always lies says Nazi Policei
so everything is just fine
move along kids , nothing to see here :-(

macncheez on March 31, 2010 at 2:35 PM

I agree this warrants further investigation. I glanced over the article, but am still unclear as to why these CIA interrogators needed to be IDed by inmates.

BUT, I think it’s still very unclear whether showing the inmates the pictures of the interrogators put them in any danger. As the article states, names were not associated with the pictures. Identities were not disclosed.

The probe was launched last year but was given renewed attention after CIA counterintelligence officials expressed alarm at the recent discovery of photographs of CIA officers, without their names on the photos, in a cell at the prison.

Now, if these are covert CIA interrogators, one could assume they would have had contact with al qaeda inmates, right? So how is showing their picture to inmates any different than these guys appearing in person in front of the inmates?

I don’t see, Ed, how you can come to this conclusion:

the defense attorneys appear to have leaked the identities of covert agents working to defeat foreign terrorists to the terrorists themselves. If the terrorists get Internet access, they can pass that information to their cohorts running free around the world and allow them to target the front lines of America’s defense against their plots.

Again, it doesn’t appear that defense attorneys leaked anyone’s identity. And what information exactly is a terrorist going to send IF they got Internet access? They don’t have names, they don’t have photos? What exactly would they send?

To say this is more malicious than the Plame case is ridiculous.

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Move along, nothing to see here!
Surprise, not really. This is reason numero uno as to why consent of the Senate GOP for Holder should have been a major mountain for Otraitor to over come.

A civil war would solve all these problems. No jail time, just executions for the treasoness rat bastards. As conservatives take the security of the nation in a searious manner so do the other side with the exception of they side with the enemy.

larvcom on March 31, 2010 at 2:52 PM

To say this is more malicious than the Plame case is ridiculous.

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 2:39 PM

You mean the Plame case where the leaker was known up front and was never punished? That Plame case? Ever wonder why that was? It’s because there was no crime committed in “leaking” her identity.

mwdiver on March 31, 2010 at 2:54 PM

To say this is more malicious than the Plame case is ridiculous.

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Your side of the political spectrum had absolutely no problem with the outing of hundreds of CIA agents in decades past-Phillip Agee and his followers were hailed by the Left as heroes for doing so. Even after some of those agents turned up dead as a result.

But when a hot blonde CIA analyst was outed during the Administration of a Republican President, you folks on the Left suddenly fell in lovey. All of a sudden, a Bush-hating member of The Company was someone to be protected, not outed.

And now we can see that your side did have a double standard. What a shock.

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Gee, ya think?

Tony737 on March 31, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Lynn Stewart is smokin’ hot though. – Bishop

Hahaha oh yeah, she sure is … Lorian would hit that! HAA! :-)

Tony737 on March 31, 2010 at 3:03 PM

I had to read that twice ’cause it just doesn’t make any sense. Has the entire world gone nuts?

Tony737 on March 31, 2010 at 3:10 PM

To say this is more malicious than the Plame case is ridiculous.

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 2:39 PM

So true .

These outed CIA operatives have not posed for Vanity Fair yet …how can it be malicious at all
Right ?????

macncheez on March 31, 2010 at 3:11 PM

There is no comparison between this and l’affair Plame. This is a crime, Plame was a manufactured non-event.

Matera should track down and interview Plame or her douchie husband about this. That’d be a hoot.

Akzed on March 31, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Lynn Stewart is smokin’ hot though.

Bishop on March 31, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Comment of the Millennium!

Bruno Strozek on March 31, 2010 at 3:38 PM

To say this is more malicious than the Plame case is ridiculous.*

* I will add a caveat to this. To say it’s more malicious — at this point — is ridiculous. Mainly because we don’t know the intent of this project. Why were the inmates shown these photos? Were they just trying to see if the inmates recognized these guys? If so, why?

To me, this would be a lot more serious if it were revealed the names of the CIA agents were given or the inmates. But if it’s just a case of this group trying to see if the inmates recognized the covert interrogators, I’m not sure how much that puts them in jeopardy (especially considering they may have well seen these interrogators face to face).

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Del, name one of the 20 covert operatives that was outed by this ACLU program?

Also explain to me how asking a detainee to say if they recognized a person in a photo without giving them any information about that person is “outing” them? (assuming this is what happened).

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Ok, this is no longer simply “standing up for the principles of justice by defending even the worst of the worst”, this is aiding and abetting our enemies.

I agree, I think this is a slap in the face to those in the legal community who have been fighting to keep those attorneys there.

Squid Shark on March 31, 2010 at 4:08 PM

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Keep molesting that yard bird

macncheez on March 31, 2010 at 4:10 PM

Maybe these attorneys have gone so far over the edge that they themselves are providing the names to al-Queda. Why would they want to know if these covert agents were the interogators or not? They sure seem to sympathize rather than represent.

Big John on March 31, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Big John on March 31, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Advocacy requires a certain amount of sympathy. You can not be a good advocate without talking yourself into it.

Squid Shark on March 31, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Best to execute all Gitmo prisoners before this dangerous security situation gets any worse.

These spies, saboteurs and terrorists should have been hanged already, years ago. Most of them, soon after being captured, once their interrogations were carried out.

If it had been done, as the Third Geneva Convention approves of for such lawless scum, then dozens of these maniacs, who were released by both Bush and Obama, and who went “home” only to return to the Jihad, would not have been permitted to kill again.

This kind of delusional, suicidal, “legal” madness does not get any better with age.

profitsbeard on March 31, 2010 at 5:03 PM

Tom, you admit you don’t know why the photos were shown to the inmates. Did you go any further with this in your own mind?

What possible reason could there be for asking an inmate if he recognizes his interrogator? Do you think the attorneys who showed the pictures to the inmates did NOT know the identities of the interrogators?

If the attorneys do know those identities (and we have no reason to think otherwise), why would they want to know? Think about it, what possible reason could there be for wanting this information (DEFENSE attorneys, are ya following me here)?

We do have precedent here, and it was mentioned in the article….Lynne Stewart. Except now, the attorneys involved know alot more about how to avoid her fate, don’t they now?

Stop spouting idiotic leftist drivel and use your brain once in a while. Your knee-jerk reaction was to defend TERRORISTS! Think before you post.

runawayyyy on March 31, 2010 at 5:25 PM

This is a face deal, and ability of those released to remember who they have seen is a part of what is going on. Awhile back we had a double-agent take out CIA personnel in the Afpak theater, and he was a ‘known’ risk and double-agent. Using these words tells you that this part of the conflict is not just standard warfighting but INTEL/COINTEL. While al Qaeda has not demonstrated a I/CI capability anywhere close to that of, say, the old KGB… well not even up to the Sûreté… that is not to say they have no I/CI capability. Just the opposite as they do good screening of their people as they go up through the ranks and have a network of individuals able to interface with other groups in and around the region, if not globally.

That network has some extremely good organizations with connections to INTEL organizations, like Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami with the Pakistani ISI. In all the take-downs against al Qaeda and the Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami has been left unmolested as it is a long-term favorite of the ISI. As this is an organization that was originally based in Pakistan but let by Afghans, with deep ties into Afghanistan, they can find out who returnees are. Kidnap for information is not out of the realm of possibility and those at Gitmo know it, which is why some have asked to stay there: they are a safety risk to their families.

With just a bit of help from the ISI a returnee can be snatched, told to describe individuals they have seen and then asked for confirmation of those suspected of being CIA operatives in the region. For Hekmatyar that stretches from London to China, although mostly centered from Chechnya to Uzbekistan. That information Hekmatyar can use to not only extract help from al Qaeda, but use for his own purposes as well. And the ISI also can do its bit with the information in their realm of I/CI.

It is not a zero risk letting detainees go. Some we should offer asylum and protection not only for them but their families if they really are not terrorists. That isn’t just for their sake but for that of our INTEL operatives in the field who have had to show up at Gitmo. At our distance we cannot blithely say the risk is zero: it isn’t. When that is the case we do have to take very seriously what those who are at risk are telling us. They do not operate in a lovely world of moral certitude, but they do operate in one of life or death based on information and how it gets out and is used. This is a realm of probabilities with those who volunteer having their lives put on the line by the decisions that are made. It is not a pretty side of this fight, but it is necessary.

And if a lawyer ‘turns’ like Lynn Stewart did then the risk factor jumps up substantially. What starts out as a low risk can move to moderate or substantial with just one such change. The probability for that goes up with each new person you add to the system. I certainly can’t say that it is worth the risk without knowing the exact parameters of how many detainees are yet to be processed, how many agents have been through the facility and seen by detainees, how many lawyers are involved and what screening is being done on those lawyers. And if you want zero screening on lawyers, you are asking for trouble…

ajacksonian on March 31, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Skandia Recluse on March 31, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Read Ann Coulter’s Treason. Sen. Joe McCarthy was completely correct. The media and the Commies riddled in our government from FDR and even Ike’s administration started the ball of infiltration rolling by looking the other way and putting a stop (unsuccessfully) in some of the investigation. The real traitors can be found in the media for perpetuating the lie.

onlineanalyst on March 31, 2010 at 5:58 PM

To me, this would be a lot more serious if it were revealed the names of the CIA agents were given or the inmates. But if it’s just a case of this group trying to see if the inmates recognized the covert interrogators, I’m not sure how much that puts them in jeopardy (especially considering they may have well seen these interrogators face to face).

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 3:39 PM

For what purpose is the bolded section important? What do the defense attorneys hope to gain by this identification?

Aw, h*ll, why not have that paragon of truth, Nancy Pelosi, settle the matter?

*spit*

onlineanalyst on March 31, 2010 at 6:07 PM

Also explain to me how asking a detainee to say if they recognized a person in a photo without giving them any information about that person is “outing” them? (assuming this is what happened).

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 3:45 PM

How about if the attorneys flash your picture without giving any information about you to a detainee to see how fast it gets around the terrorist network?

onlineanalyst on March 31, 2010 at 6:10 PM

Del, name one of the 20 covert operatives that was outed by this ACLU program?

Also explain to me how asking a detainee to say if they recognized a person in a photo without giving them any information about that person is “outing” them? (assuming this is what happened).

Tom_Shipley on March 31, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Keep spinning.

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Newsweek magazine reported March 29 that CIA concerns were heightened after 20 color photographs of CIA officials were found in the cell of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, a detainee who U.S. officials think is one of the financiers of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

And this from Ernest at the Beach

As I noted in a column Monday, while Jennifer Daskal was an attorney at the leftist Human Rights Watch (HRW) — and functioning as a tireless advocate for the al-Qaeda detainees — she played a key role in HRW’s 2005 exposure of the CIA’s secret detention of top terrorists in Europe and elsewhere.

At The Weekly Standard, Debra Burlingame and Tom Joscelyn have recounted that HRW was able to compromise the CIA agents by tracking CIA-chartered flights, among other things.

Since early 2009, Daskal — who has no prosecutorial experience — has been working in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, recruited by Attorney General Eric Holder to work on detainee policy.

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2010 at 11:14 PM