The Corner

CIA Says Gitmo Bar Endangered Its Agents

Bill Gertz has the story at the Washington Times, including:

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 team also expressed concerns about the inmates’ access to laptop computers in the past….

The joint investigation … 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. 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….

[Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald] 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. A senior Justice Department National Security Division official, Donald Vieira, recused himself from the probe earlier this month as a result of the interagency dispute. Mr. Vieira was a Democratic counsel on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, before taking a post at the Justice Department….

Regarding the interagency dispute, some CIA officials are said to be concerned that Justice Department investigators may have been advocates on behalf of the Guantanamo Bay detainees prior to joining the Obama administration…. 

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. Officials familiar with the photos said they included snapshots of CIA officers in public areas. According to U.S. officials, the photographs were obtained by the John Adams Project through private investigators who were able to track down the CIA officials.

The Washington Post reported in August that private investigators were able to identify CIA officers by tracking CIA-chartered flights of captured terrorists. The investigators apparently were able to identify hotels in Europe where CIA officers and contractors had stayed and gained access to hotel phone records that allowed the investigators to trace their locations. The Post report stated that private investigators had compiled a list of up to 45 names that researchers used to eventually photograph the CIA personnel or to obtain other photos from public sources.

Under the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, it is a crime to knowingly identify publicly a CIA officer working under cover.

The italics, above, are mine. 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.


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