Monday, May 31, 2010

The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Lawyers

Just wanted to mention one other issue with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. Rep Jeff Miller (R-FL) worked to get this into the bill.

During committee markup, Republicans successfully were able to force an investigation by the DoD Inspector General into the conduct and practices of certain lawyers for terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The amendment, which was offered by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), directs the Pentagon's Inspector General to identify any conduct or practice of such a lawyer that has interfered with the operations of the DoD at Guantanamo Bay, violated any applicable policy of the Department, or violated any law of the U.S.

This is what Miller had to say as a guest blogger on the Heritage Foundation blog.

Last year the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) established the John Adams Project to “support military counsel at Guantanamo Bay.” The mission behind this treacherous enterprise was to identify intelligence officers involved in interrogating Guantanamo Bay detainees and then provide that information to military defense attorneys representing the detainees so that they could attempt to call intelligence personnel to testify. Unfortunately, it appears that their efforts may have been successful, when last year photographs of intelligence personnel were found in the cells of detainees. News reports indicate that American citizens hired private investigators to surreptitiously photograph intelligence personnel and provide them to enemies of this nation. If true, the disgraceful actions by the individuals involved in the John Adams Project have created a severe security risk for our intelligence community and, ultimately, the American people. Any attempt to identify and expose to potential harm our Nation’s fine intelligence and military officers who serve as our first line of defense is deceitful, shameful, and illegal.

If true, these devious actions by the John Adams Project resulted in three things: One, it has created a significant security risk to intelligence and military personnel, as well as compromised our national security. Two, it would mean that U.S. laws and Department of Defense (DoD) policies have been violated. Third, it would have affected detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay.

It also appears that these pro-bono attorneys likely violated the law protecting classified information. The release of these photos appears to violate 18 USC 798 which prohibits the disclosure of classified information. Specifically, the release of the faces of these CIA officers to a foreign enemy is illegal.

Notice the "if true's" and "appears". Had any attorneys done anything illegal, then there would have been an investigation, charges filed, etc. But nothing of the sort took place--because no laws were violated. Attorneys, regardless of who they represent, are required to represent their clients zealously. And Guantanamo detainees need adequate and zealous representation just as much as any person charged with a crime, and yet even more so when you consider we are imprisoning people whom we are unable to try even with a military commission.

Both the Obama and Bush administration's record is pretty dismal when it comes to detainees challenging their detention.

Miller says:

Lastly, these actions may have negatively impacted detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay. The facility holds the most dangerous terrorists and foreign fighters detained during the operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism. You are not sent to this facility unless you have directly harmed or conspired to harm American troops, our allies, or innocent civilians.

During jury selection in a trial, should a juror express the belief that the person being charged must be guilty since they are being charged--nevermind the evidence--that juror would be excused. The record shows that many of the Guantanamo detainees were either innocent or presumably so because of lack of any evidence. Yes, there are some for whom they have evidence and who can be tried. Fine, then do so.

But Miller wants us to believe, like that misguided juror, that the detainees are not innocent because they are being detained. And what Miller is trying to do is chill the attorneys so they are unable to represent their clients as strongly as they should.

Getting an innocent man declared innocent after being imprisoned for so long makes us look bad. And we wouldn't want that. Like Miller, we all want to stand "strongly on the side of the American people, vociferously fighting for security, liberty, and freedom..." And screw everybody else.

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