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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.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.