‘McCarthyite’ provision in defense bill targets ACLU lawyers
The defense appropriations bill currently moving through the House of Representatives includes a measure which directs the Defense Department's inspector general to investigate attorneys who may have "interfered with operations of the Department of Defense" while representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay and report back to Congress.
That measure has civil libertarians up in arms. Salon's Glenn Greenwald, for example, described the "truly vile provision" as a "McCarthyite attack on detainee lawyers" and identified it as "the brainchild of GOP Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, who has labeled efforts to represent detainees ... a 'treacherous enterprise" and smeared those lawyers as 'disloyal.'"
According to ABC News, Rep. Miller "proposed the language to the bill because he was outraged by the allegations behind the Department of Justice investigation that is being led by U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Miller said it's important to subject detainee defense lawyers to greater scrutiny in order to 'identify any policy violations,' that, he said, could compromise national security."
The allegations cited by Miller became public knowledge last March, when it was revealed that the Justice Department had secretly been investigating whether lawyers involved with the ACLU's John Adams Project had broken any laws in their attempts to to have detainees identify CIA interrogators who might have been involved in torture. When it appeared that the Justice Department was about to conclude that no crimes had been committed, the CIA complained and the department brought Fitzgerald in to resolve the dispute.
Since Fitzgerald's investigation remains ongoing, Miller's measure would seem to be intended primarily to drag the issue into the political arena and make it the subject of Congressional hearings during the period immediately prior to next fall's elections.