ACLU Better Spooks than the Torturers

Apparently, the ACLU (or rather, private investigators hired by the John Adams Project) are better spooks than the torturers. I say that because John Rizzo has now confirmed what had not been certain before: that when ACLU asked the PIs to figure out who had tortured the men it represented at Gitmo, the PIs actually got the right men–or at the least covert CIA people. (h/t MD)

“These were pictures of undercover people who were involved in the interrogations program given for identification purposes to the 9/11 [terrorists].”


Mr. Rizzo said the photos “were pictures of agency people, some of which were captured paparazzi-style, clearly taken in a kind of surveillance mode.”


“These were undercover people, the pictures taken surreptitiously found in the cell of one of the 9/11 suspects. I think they found it under the guy’s blanket,” he said.


But he said that he could think of two types of crimes that may have been committed by the attorneys giving the photos to the detainees.

One possible crime would be the “disclosure of classified information, being the faces of these people, to an enemy foreign power,” Mr. Rizzo said.

Hey ACLU? You got the right people. John Rizzo–who was closely involved with the torturers–has now confirmed it for you in print.

All of which sort of highlights the problems with this witch hunt. To support it (in the Moonie Times before it goes under, I should note), Rizzo is arguing that faces are now classified. Not identities. Faces. Yet it didn’t have its torturers wandering around in burkas to hide those faces, which made them readily available for PIs to photograph. But the PIs presumably couldn’t be sure of the identities behind those faces until either the detainees at Gitmo confirmed them … or until someone like John Rizzo went and told a newspaper they were “undercover people who were involved in the interrogations program.”

And while we’re discussing John Rizzo, it’s rather important that Rizzo was the one who started this witch hunt in the first place, don’t you think?

John Rizzo, who was the agency’s top attorney until December, said in an interview that he initially requested the Justice Department and CIA investigation into the compromise of CIA interrogators’ identities after photographs of the officers were found in the cell of one al Qaeda terrorist in Cuba.

After all, if the full extent of individual torturers’ actions becomes public, it will be more likely they will be prosecuted for their actions. If that happens, it’s possible the torturers will expose the roles of those above them. And that would include John Rizzo, who almost certainly knew that the torturers were already exceeding the techniques approved by the Bybee Two memo as the memo was written. In other words, Rizzo has a very personal interest in hoping the names that belong with these faces don’t become named. Because if they do, the full extent of Rizzo’s complicity with torture might become exposed.

14 replies
  1. tjbs says:

    They could have wore hoods during “questioning”.

    This CIA doesn’t fit in an open transparent democracy.

    It’s not the whole CIA, just the hand picked cheney branch.

    If in church during passing the peace I’m sure “christians” wouldn’t want to shake hands with a hand that say, sliced a penis, now would they?

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    After all, if the full extent of individual torturers’ actions becomes public, it will be more likely they will be prosecuted for their actions.

    By whom? For what? Unless you can call those deaths murder, there’s nothing left that hasn’t exceeded the SoL.

    And even a murder prosecution would require a prosecutor, and ObamaLLP controls all of those. And they’re all looking forward.

    Perhaps another country will do something. If they do, they can count on Hillary’s state dept to put every bit of pressure the Last Remaining Superpower can bring to bear to stop it. And even if they fail to stop it, ObamaLLP is unlikely ever to honor a foreign arrest warrant for any member of BushCo.

    Like it or not, they’ve gotten away with it. I think Rizzo’s noise is simply to provide cover for those protecting him and his toady’s.

    In Rizzo’s defense, if I were a relative of a torture victim, I might well be looking for revenge if I could only identify the guy with the pliers. I have no problem with the lawyers trying to identify witnesses, but I’d have a real problem if those photos got published.

    Boxturtle (The best we can hope for is that no grass will grow on their graves)

    • emptywheel says:

      Actually, the Main Justice coverage of Rizzo’s appearance has him bitching about how unfair the Durham inquiry is and pretending that the legal authority that CIA used to get a declination of prosecution for Gul Rahman’s murder was actually something that CIA invented with a OLC hack working back channel.

      I always wonder if the louder people squawk the closer legal inquiries get.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        I still think that Durham is going to be a whitewash. He’ll be very careful not to find anything that isn’t covered by the SoL.

        Rizzo may have his reputation ruined, he may not be able to travel to anyplace but Israel, but he will walk free here in America.

        Boxturtle (I’d love to be wrong)

  3. klynn says:

    Love it. You walked out Rizzo’s conflict of interest and the fact that it is Rizzo who just outed them. He has now become “criminal cubed.” What’s the phrase? Oh yes, “Third time’s the charm.”

    The ACLU should do fine in court on this. Rizzo outed the agents.

    Interesting that ACLU clients are being denied the process of finding those that committed violence against them.

  4. crossword says:

    Oh for Christ’s sake…everyone in Virginia knows where they live. John Adams Project are pseudo-sleuths for being resourceful, and OGA just needs to shut the hell up, because everyone knows. Everyone here knows.

    Vienna, Timberley Park, Springfield, North Arlington and the outskirts of Lorton. All in Virginia. When you make enough money, you move to Bethesda or maybe a five bedroom in Anne Arundel (Maryland) or Belleville, maybe Triangle (Virginia).

    There’s a reason why he’s the former General Counsel.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, one of my points is that if these guys can’t hide their identities worth shit the CIA ought not to squawk so loudly.

      It’s worth noting, btw, that Gertz and Lake for some reason neglected to mention what they previously reported, which is that DOJ pretty much decided no crime had been committed but that CIA kept squawking which is why they brought Fitz into review the case. Instead, they talk about the length of the investigation as if that’s a measure of its seriousness.

      • crossword says:

        Donning my “personal experience” hat: most case officers, contractors and analytical/support personnel don’t even try to hide it. Bumper stickers, t-shirts and other swag. State Department Credit Union debit cards.

        It’s the POO and SSO’s (paramilitaries by trade and title) and the psychologists, Abraxas contractors and others who create an extra layer beyond what work provides.

        John Adams caught the contractors and at least one “real” employee. Most of the torture mongers were SSO’s.

    • bmaz says:

      Actually there is, and it is eight years. There is no statute on “war crimes”, which is a different provision, and murder.

  5. TarheelDem says:

    This “photos found in a prisoner’s cell” confuses me, given the supposed tight control at Gitmo. The CIA found photos of its interrogators and then immediately jumped to the conclusion that a defense lawyer left them with the prisoner.

    How convenient! Especially if you don’t want to have a legal defense at all.

    Tell me what I am missing.

    • crossword says:

      You’re not missing anything. It’s been amateur hour over there since 2003. All the competent people left for contractors or were ran out of town.

  6. bobschacht says:

    Thanks for your work on this!
    Daylight is the best disinfectant. I hope Rizzo’s ass is cooked. Legally and with due process, of course.

    Bob in AZ

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