ACLU and the Gitmo Leak of CIA Agent Photos

In a May 22, 2010 letter to President Obama, Congressman Todd Akin (R.-2nd Dist, Missouri) called for a "full and thorough investigation" into how the identities of two CIA covert operatives were leaked to the ACLU.

Forty-seven other members of Congress co-signed Congressman Akin's letter.

After one year of the DOJ seemingly taking no action, and then two years of investigating, on January 23, 2012, former CIA employee John Kiriakou was charged with leaking the identities of two CIA officers to three journalists, who then gave the information to an investigator working in the ACLU's John Adams Project.

Photographs of the CIA officers were obtained and inserted into a group of non-CIA personnel photos, and then given to detainees.  The detainees were to pick out the faces of their interrogators whom they recognized.

So does Kiriakou's arrest end the investigation?  Not for Congressman Akin.  He believes there are more concerns attached to this case.

When, on January 24, 2012, Akin's office was contacted for a comment concerning the arrest of John Kiriakou, Press Secretary Steve Taylor responded, "Bottom line: Congressman Akin does not believe all of the concerns have been addressed."

Here's a brief review of the story to refresh your memory.

It began when the ACLU started a program to provide legal assistance to Gitmo detainees.  Here's how the ACLU defined their initiative:

[T]he American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have taken on the task of assembling defense teams to be available to assist in the representation of those Guantánamo detainees who have been charged under the Military Commissions Act, subject to the detainees' consent. More than 30 lawyers have agreed to work on this important endeavor[.]

The ACLU efforts on behalf of Gitmo detainees became national news in mid March 2009.

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has tapped the Justice Department's most feared prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to lead a sensitive investigation into whether defense lawyers at Guantánamo Bay compromised the identities of covert CIA officers. The probe was triggered by the discovery last year of about 20 color photographs of CIA officials in the cell of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, an alleged financier of the 9/11 attacks, say three current and former government officials who asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case.

You can read the 26-page Criminal Complaint, dated January 23, 2012, issued from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, here.  It offers a clear and straightforward telling of the story.  

Among the most sensitive information leaked concerned the CIA's Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program, and the capture and interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.

After 32 pages of photographs, which included those of the CIA officers, were found in the spring of 2009 in the possession of "certain high value detainees" held at Gitmo, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was, on March 8, 2010, appointed as special attorney to "supervise the investigation."

The ACLU's goal was to identify the CIA personnel involved in the interrogations of their Gitmo clients, in order to discover how information from the detainees was obtained.  According to the ACLU's website:

The military commissions' authorization of the use of coerced evidence possibly derived from torture, secret evidence, and hearsay is unconstitutional and counter to American traditions of fairness and justice.

Following the arrest of Kiriakou, other questions remain, including:

  • Why did journalists pass information to an ACLU investigator?
  • Have these journalists been interviewed by federal investigators?
  • Who are the journalists, and for what news outlet(s) do they work?  (Note that New York Times reporter Scott Shane revealed the identity of CIA employee Deuce Martinez in this June 22, 2008 article.)
  • Are we to believe that, as the Criminal Complaint document states, "the [government] investigative team found no evidence the defense attorneys transmitting the photographs were aware of, much less disclosed, the identities of the persons depicted in particular photographs or otherwise disclosed any classified matters associated with certain of those [CIA] individuals to the detainees"?  So the ACLU attorneys gave double-blind photo lineups to Gitmo detainees without knowing which pictures displayed the CIA officers? Really?  How would they know if the detainee chose a CIA officer if they didn't know which were their photos?
  • Did Kiriakou pass any classified information directly to any ACLU attorney(s)?
  • Who tasked the ACLU investigator to secure photos and personal information concerning the CIA officers?  And were any laws broken in that endeavor?
  • Were the identities of any other CIA personnel leaked to the ACLU?

And, lastly, does the apprehension of Kiriakou end this investigation?

In a May 22, 2010 letter to President Obama, Congressman Todd Akin (R.-2nd Dist, Missouri) called for a "full and thorough investigation" into how the identities of two CIA covert operatives were leaked to the ACLU.

Forty-seven other members of Congress co-signed Congressman Akin's letter.

After one year of the DOJ seemingly taking no action, and then two years of investigating, on January 23, 2012, former CIA employee John Kiriakou was charged with leaking the identities of two CIA officers to three journalists, who then gave the information to an investigator working in the ACLU's John Adams Project.

Photographs of the CIA officers were obtained and inserted into a group of non-CIA personnel photos, and then given to detainees.  The detainees were to pick out the faces of their interrogators whom they recognized.

So does Kiriakou's arrest end the investigation?  Not for Congressman Akin.  He believes there are more concerns attached to this case.

When, on January 24, 2012, Akin's office was contacted for a comment concerning the arrest of John Kiriakou, Press Secretary Steve Taylor responded, "Bottom line: Congressman Akin does not believe all of the concerns have been addressed."

Here's a brief review of the story to refresh your memory.

It began when the ACLU started a program to provide legal assistance to Gitmo detainees.  Here's how the ACLU defined their initiative:

[T]he American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have taken on the task of assembling defense teams to be available to assist in the representation of those Guantánamo detainees who have been charged under the Military Commissions Act, subject to the detainees' consent. More than 30 lawyers have agreed to work on this important endeavor[.]

The ACLU efforts on behalf of Gitmo detainees became national news in mid March 2009.

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has tapped the Justice Department's most feared prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to lead a sensitive investigation into whether defense lawyers at Guantánamo Bay compromised the identities of covert CIA officers. The probe was triggered by the discovery last year of about 20 color photographs of CIA officials in the cell of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, an alleged financier of the 9/11 attacks, say three current and former government officials who asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case.

You can read the 26-page Criminal Complaint, dated January 23, 2012, issued from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, here.  It offers a clear and straightforward telling of the story.  

Among the most sensitive information leaked concerned the CIA's Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program, and the capture and interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.

After 32 pages of photographs, which included those of the CIA officers, were found in the spring of 2009 in the possession of "certain high value detainees" held at Gitmo, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was, on March 8, 2010, appointed as special attorney to "supervise the investigation."

The ACLU's goal was to identify the CIA personnel involved in the interrogations of their Gitmo clients, in order to discover how information from the detainees was obtained.  According to the ACLU's website:

The military commissions' authorization of the use of coerced evidence possibly derived from torture, secret evidence, and hearsay is unconstitutional and counter to American traditions of fairness and justice.

Following the arrest of Kiriakou, other questions remain, including:

  • Why did journalists pass information to an ACLU investigator?
  • Have these journalists been interviewed by federal investigators?
  • Who are the journalists, and for what news outlet(s) do they work?  (Note that New York Times reporter Scott Shane revealed the identity of CIA employee Deuce Martinez in this June 22, 2008 article.)
  • Are we to believe that, as the Criminal Complaint document states, "the [government] investigative team found no evidence the defense attorneys transmitting the photographs were aware of, much less disclosed, the identities of the persons depicted in particular photographs or otherwise disclosed any classified matters associated with certain of those [CIA] individuals to the detainees"?  So the ACLU attorneys gave double-blind photo lineups to Gitmo detainees without knowing which pictures displayed the CIA officers? Really?  How would they know if the detainee chose a CIA officer if they didn't know which were their photos?
  • Did Kiriakou pass any classified information directly to any ACLU attorney(s)?
  • Who tasked the ACLU investigator to secure photos and personal information concerning the CIA officers?  And were any laws broken in that endeavor?
  • Were the identities of any other CIA personnel leaked to the ACLU?

And, lastly, does the apprehension of Kiriakou end this investigation?