Friday, August 21, 2009

Vindictive Charges Against Guantanamo Attorneys

The Obama Department of Justice is more interested in harassing the the attorneys who are trying to help the Guantanamo prisoners, than in finding a decent place to resettle the prisoners it tortured. According to a New York Times article today:
The Justice Department is investigating whether three military defense lawyers for detainees at the Guantánamo prison illegally showed their clients photographs of C.I.A. interrogators, two leaders of civilian legal groups that are working with the defense lawyers said Thursday...

The agents informed the uniformed lawyers of their right to remain silent, and then questioned them about whether they showed their clients pictures of Central Intelligence Agency officials — possibly including covert agents — that came from an “independent investigation” by the A.C.L.U. and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Mr. Romero said.
The pictures shown to the prisoners were part of an effort "called the John Adams Project, [where] researchers have been trying to identify which C.I.A. officials participated in harsh interrogations of the detainees under the Bush administration’s program of secret C.I.A. prisons."

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, answered the government's charges:
This is nothing more than a misguided effort to shut down the vigorous defense of defendants at the sham Guantánamo proceedings and an attempt to divert the public’s attention from the torture and abuse of detainees by their CIA interrogators.

It’s ironic that the Justice Department is so concerned about defense attorneys’ use of lawfully obtained photos of CIA interrogators, when they expressed no concern that photos of the architects of the CIA’s torture program were plastered all over the New York Times last week.

It’s an essential part of defense work to compile lists of individuals who have interacted with defendants. Identifying who may have tortured our clients and under what circumstances is crucial to their defense.

We are confident that no laws or regulations were broken as we investigated the circumstances of the torture of our clients. The Justice Department should be investigating the government officials who authorized and carried out the torture, not the military lawyers who have exemplified American values of justice by stepping up to defend these clients and fighting for due process in the otherwise broken Guantánamo proceedings. The real scandal isn’t that we’re investigating the torture of our clients, but that the government isn’t.
The Obama administration may present as something less brutal, less reactionary than the Bush administration it succeeded. But make no mistake, this is a mean, vindictive government, full of people who like to see nothing more than a return to the darkest days of Cheneyesque rule. That Obama does not speak out against or seems to countenance these kinds of moves by his own Justice Department says volumes about either the kind of leader he really is, or the amount of power and say he really has over the apparatus of governmental repression and war.

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