The House Armed Services Committee approved legislation Wednesday that would require the Pentagon's inspector general to conduct an investigation into whether defense attorneys for detainees at the detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, acted improperly.
The measure is part of a $760 billion defense authorization bill approved by the panel that will fund the military, Energy Department, nuclear weapons programs, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and military relief operations in Haiti.
The detainee measure was sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, and directs the Pentagon inspector general to investigate whether attorneys may have acted improperly or violated laws related to detainee operations at the Cuban prison.
The amendment still faces a full House vote as part of the bill, which then must be reconciled with the Senate version.
The provision followed a recent closed-door briefing for the committee by the Pentagon on the joint Justice Department, CIA and Pentagon investigation of an American Civil Liberties-backed program called the John Adams Project.
The project has come under investigation for suspected violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act after the group hired private investigators to photograph undercover CIA officers and show the photos to al Qaeda detainees in Cuba, as part of an effort to identify CIA interrogators who could be called as witnesses in future military or civilian trials.
Spokesmen for the ACLU and John Adams Project have denied that any attorneys acted improperly in supporting military defense attorneys for the detainees.
The amendment, adopted by the committee Wednesday night, also would require the inspector general to investigate any misconduct by defense attorneys and whether any misconduct is continuing.
"If the reports are true, the disgraceful actions by these disloyal defense lawyers involved in the John Adams Project have created a severe security risk for our military and intelligence personnel and, ultimately, the American people," Mr. Miller said in a statement on the amendment.
"Our citizens deserve a complete and honest investigation to determine if our Nations laws were broken or if the Department of Defenses policies were violated."
Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, California Republican and ranking member of the committee, said that based on information the committee received on the John Adams Project he is "very concerned that the departments detainee operations have been - and may continue to be - compromised.:
"Of greater concern is that the John Adams Project may have put military and U.S. government personnel at risk," Mr. McKeon said. "Its for these reasons that we believe its vital for the departments inspector general to fully investigate the conduct and practices of certain defense lawyers and report to Congress in a timely manner."
In other action, committee Democrats defeated a Republican amendment that would have blocked the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. mainland for prosecution.
Other measures now included in the bill include a provision requiring the Pentagon to develop a strategic military plan to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and to study the administration's new missile defense plan for Europe.
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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