Today, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement in response to the Department of Defense (DoD) refusal to name the lawyers representing detainees involved with the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
In January, when former CIA officer John Kiriakou was charged with leaking classified information that, by way of detainees' defense counsel, ended up in the cells of al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo, King called for the Department of Justice to disclose the names of lawyers involved in showing photos of covert CIA officers to terrorists at Guantanamo.
On February 7, King, citing a Committee investigation into "the U.S. government's response and handling of threats potentially emanating from detainees," requested that DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson, share the names of all defense counsel who have represented certain detainees implicated in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Last week, Johnson flatly refused to identify the attorneys, going so far as to state that the Pentagon "reserves the right to object to further inquiry on the overall subject of defense counsel's conduct in their efforts to represent the 9/11 defendants."
Today, in response, Chairman King said: "Jeh Johnson's refusal is unacceptable, and I completely disagree with his reasoning.
"Congress designed military commissions to be open and transparent. Unlike the CIA officers whose identities were passed to al-Qaeda, these attorneys "representing' Guantanamo detainees have no reasonable expectation that their identities be kept secret.
"As an attorney myself, I fully respect the adversarial system and the important, and public, role of defense attorneys. If these detainees' lawyers have only engaged in zealous representation of their clients, they should have nothing to hide.
"Legitimate advocacy does not include abusing a position of trust by sharing classified information with members of al-Qaeda. A license to practice law is not a license to aid the enemies of the United States.
"The American people deserve to know exactly who has been allowed unmonitored contact with the men awaiting trial for the murders of nearly 3,000 innocents on 9/11.
"If the Pentagon refuses to release these lawyers' names, I am committed to exploring appropriate Congressional tools to obtain them."