Three defense attorneys representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay are being investigated for possibly breaking the law after they showed photos of suspected CIA personnel to their clients at the prison.
The lawyers, members of the military’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, showed the detainees the images in an effort to identify CIA officers and contractors who may have engaged in harsh interrogation techniques with the detainees at so-called “black sites” outside the United States, according to the Washington Post.
The lawyer’s clients have been charged with terrorism crimes related to the 9/11 attacks and are being tried before a military commission. The lawyers have been considering calling the CIA interrogators to the witness stand.
The photos, some of which were taken surreptitiously outside the homes of CIA personnel, were taken by researchers hired by the John Adams Project, a project run jointly by the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which is helping the military attorneys defend their clients, a source told the Post.
It’s not known if the lawyers told the prisoners the images were of CIA personnel or just asked detainees if they recognized people in the pictures.
The Justice Department’s counter-espionage section is leading the investigation to determine if the lawyers broke any laws. It’s not known which laws the DoJ thinks the lawyers may have broken, but federal statutes prohibit identifying covert CIA officers. There are also rules governing the military commissions that prohibit disclosure of classified information to prisoners.
The ACLU asserts that the investigation is simply an attempt by the DoJ to intimidate the attorneys and keep the ACLU from reporting information about prisoner abuse.
“We are confident that no laws or regulations have been broken as we investigated the circumstances of the torture of our clients and as we have vigorously defended our clients’ interests,” Anthony D. Romero, the group’s executive director, told the Post. “Rather than investigate the CIA officials who undertook the torture, they are now investigating the military lawyers who have courageously stepped up to defend these clients in these sham proceedings.”
Romero told the New York Times that investigating the claims of their clients was standard to a defense attorney’s work.
“Identifying who tortured our clients and what they did to them and when is an essential part of defending their interests in these sham proceedings,” he said.