Nov 212009
 November 21, 2009  Surveillance Comments Off on Editorial: Speech and privacy

The following editorial appeared in the Providence Journal:

It may have been mere incompetence, but it is chilling that the Obama Justice Department sent a subpoena for an undeclared reason to an Internet news site,, demanding records of all traffic to that site on June 25, 2008. Even more ominously, it demanded “all other identifying information” of people who visited, including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, Social Security numbers, bank-account numbers, credit-card numbers, etc.

Finally, it issued a “gag order,” requiring the operators of the Web site of the Philadelphia-based Independent Media Center “not to disclose the existence of this request.” That is a form of government prior restraint of free speech, which is usually not permitted under the First Amendment.

When the administrator who provided space for the Web site balked, and called in a First Amendment lawyer, the Justice Department backed down and withdrew the subpoena. But it’s not explaining itself, and it is hard to tell what it was trying to do.


Aug 302009
 August 30, 2009  Breaches, Featured News, Govt Comments Off on ACLU investigated for exposing CIA agents to terrorists

Thomas McAdam writes:

The Justice Department is investigating a group of lawyers working for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for taking pictures of covert CIA agents at Guantanamo Bay and handing them over to known al Qaida operatives. The lawyers, representing several detainees charged with organizing the September 11, 2001, attacks, have been accused of participating in an elaborate scheme to “out” as many as forty covert CIA agents, by tracking them to their homes and photographing them.

The ACLU lawyers are accused of conspiring in what is being called the “John Adams Project,” along with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and using lists and data from “human rights groups,” European researchers and news organizations that were involved in tracking international CIA-chartered flights and monitoring hotel phone records. The John Adams Project allegedly developed a list of 45 CIA employees, which the ACLU team tailed and photographed surreptitiously; often as they were leaving their homes.


In earlier coverage that I missed, Peter Finn of The Washington Post had reported:

The Justice Department recently questioned military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay about whether photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully provided to detainees charged with organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Investigators are looking into allegations that laws protecting classified information were breached when three lawyers showed their clients the photographs, the sources said. The lawyers were apparently attempting to identify CIA officers and contractors involved in the agency’s interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects in facilities outside the United States, where the agency employed harsh techniques.

Read more on The Washington Post.