Yet another fight is brewing between the Obama Justice Department and House Republicans — this time over the department’s refusal to divulge the names of the lawyers representing suspected terrorists being detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is investigating threats he suspects are coming from detainees, possibly by way of their lawyers. Some of those lawyers have been accused of providing classified information to detainees, including photos of covert CIA officers.
In January, Mr. King, New York Republican, demanded the Justice Department turn over those lawyers’ names, but the department refused in a letter last week.
Jeh Johnson, general counsel for the Defense Department, said the security issues from the photograph incident have been “addressed.” But he said the lawyers have objected to having their names released, and he agrees with them.
“Among our defense counsel, there are concerns that have been expressed to me that your inquiry, and a response by me which identified those attorneys who represent the 9/11 defendants, may have the effect of chilling defense counsel’s efforts to vigorously and appropriately represent their clients,” he wrote to Mr. King.
He also warned the lawmaker to “exercise great caution” in exploring the issue any further.
In a statement Thursday, Mr. King said military commissions are supposed to be transparent and said the lawyers should have no expectation of anonymity.
“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,” he said.