For the ACLU's sake, I hope it has very good lawyers representing it in what TPM accurately calls a potentially explosive investigation of ACLU's alleged involvement in outing CIA officers to the 9/11 defendants (reported by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff on March 19th). Patrick Fitzgerald has been appointed to lead the investigation, and Isikoff writes, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero has confirmed that the ACLU "hired private investigators to track down CIA officers involved in aggressive interrogation tactics. 'It would be an essential part of any defense to cross-examine the perpetrators of torture,' (Romero) says, adding, 'To our knowledge, the 9/11 defendants were not told the identities of the CIA officers.'"
1) John Adams Project attorneys at all times adhered to the law and fulfilled their ethical obligations while representing their clients.
2) John Adams Project attorneys complied with every requirement of the Joint Task Force and every protective order of the military commissions.
Third, the ACLU may have been operating in a gray area of attorney-client privilege, since it's not clear that ACLU affiliated attorneys were actually, formally representing the 9/11 defendants. According to Denny LeBoeuf, former director of the recently dismantled John Adams Project, ACLU affiliated attorneys directly represented two of the five alleged 9/11 co-conspirators in competency proceedings, acting as stand-by counsel to the three others who represented themselves.
What if the ACLU did break the law by outing CIA agents in the interests of identifying torturers? If the legal case against the organization were clear, the moral case would still be cloudy. It doesn't seem likely that high ranking Bush administration officials or agents will be held accountable for torture and other lawless acts; even the telecoms have been immunized for enabling warrantless surveillance. Prosecuting the ACLU for outing CIA agents might be legal, but all things considered, it might not be just. But, it would be explosive indeed.
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