Archive for Monday, October 22, 2012

Former Navy lawyer who disseminated classified information about Guantanamo Bay goes before Kansas Supreme Court to win back law license

October 22, 2012


— A former Navy lawyer who was convicted during a court martial in 2007 for mailing secret information about Guantanamo Bay detainees is seeking to get his law license reinstated in Kansas.

Attorneys for Matthew Diaz will argue on Thursday before the Kansas Supreme Court to accept a recommendation from the Office of Judicial Administration to suspend his law license for three years effective 2008. Because of the timeline, Diaz would be reinstated with the Kansas bar.

The disciplinary hearing panel said Diaz warranted "significant discipline" for his actions, which included the act of printing and sending classified information and sending it to an unauthorized person.

"The respondent (Diaz) mailed the card the day before he left the island so as to reduce his chance of facing consequences for his actions," the hearing panel noted in its filing with the Kansas Supreme Court.

However, disciplinary administrator Stan Hazlett sought for the panel to recommend disbarring Diaz.

Diaz, who was a lieutenant commander in the Navy, is currently living in New York. He earned his law degree in 1994 from Washburn University in Topeka and was admitted to practice law in Kansas.

He is represented by Wichita attorney Jack Focht who argues that Diaz by virtue of his court martial, discharge from the Navy and prison term had been punished enough for his actions.

Focht argues that Diaz was torn between what he believed was his ethical duty to see that the accused terrorists received legal counsel and his duties as a military officer to obey orders.

Prosecutors say Diaz went to his office in January 2005 and used his classified computer to log onto a classified military network and access a database with detainee information. They say he printed information that included the names of 550 detainees, their nationalities, the interrogators assigned to them and intelligence sources and methods.

Diaz then cut the document into 39 sheets that he placed inside a card with a big heart and a Chihuahua on its front and mailed it to Barbara Olshansky, they say.

At the time, Olshansky worked for the Center for Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit legal group that was suing the federal government to obtain the names of detainees because the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled they had the right to challenge their detention.

She turned the document over to federal authorities, and they traced it to Diaz.

According to court documents, Diaz sent the list of names on the day before he was to leave Guantanamo, knowing that if he was no longer on the island he would not have to answer for his actions.

Diaz's attorneys noted that their client had strong feelings toward prisoner rights. When he was 16 years old, his father, who was a nurse, was convicted in Southern California for multiple counts of murder for injecting patients with a lethal dose of Lidocaine. His father was sentenced to death but died of natural causes in prison in 2010.


kansasredlegs 5 years, 8 months ago

While I sympathize with detainees having competent legal counsel, one cannot condone what (now) Mr. Diaz did. While nonmilitary members may not know it, those who have served know there is such a thing as a Chain of Command and Mr. Diaz chose to be a coward. This was not an internal moral battle; otherwise, he would not have waited until the last second to avoid possible detection. A person with the moral fiber to stand by his convictions (no pun intended) would have done it and faced the consequences.

You cannot ever justify turning over of CLASSIFIED Information / Intelligence to non-cleared individuals. Such leaks can get people who are working in the field killed.

One must applaud Ms. Olshansky's actions. She is someone with integrity and honor as evidenced by her notifying her 'enemies' after receiving ill-gotten illegal gains. She followed the law unlike Mr. Diaz.

No Mr. Diaz, you are a disgrace to the uniform, a betrayor of trust and do not deserve the opportunity to be an Officer of the Court and entrusted with the confidences of clients. It would be just a matter of time until your next "Ends justified the means" situation arises. Good luck to you somewhere else.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 8 months ago

he should not have done what he did. i suspect his court-martial was the equivalent of a felony. do not reinstate him.

optimist 5 years, 8 months ago

The consequences of his actions may never be known. We will probably never know if soldiers, sailors or intelligence agents defending our Nation and Constitution lost their lives as a consequence of releasing those names. By publicizing the names of these individuals operations underway that might have relied on keeping the whereabouts of the detainees secret may have been compromised. I understand his dilemma but he took an oath to the "Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign or domestic". This was his first duty above all else. He acted in such a way as to aid enemies of the Constitution. I don't believe he should ever receive his license to practice law in the state of Kansas again. It's ultimately up to those granted the authority to make this decision. I'm confident they will do what is right.

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

No. He abused his security clearance and attorney/client privilege. What's to say he won't violate client/attorney privileged again? It isn't worth the risk.

Disbar him.

kansanbygrace 5 years, 8 months ago

The Catch-22 aspect of this is that he is obligated by oath and law to defend and obey the Constitution, as well as work that in to a very complicated and overused system of "security" classification and the Code of Military Justice. He is also subject to the laws of the land.

He is obligated to refuse any order which is illegal or unconstitutional, and is liable if he does not.

The moral choice that an officer of conscience sometimes has to make may require disobedience. The perpetrators of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam were examples of how sticky that wicket can be.

Neither here nor there, but the upper levels of the Chain of Command can issue iffy orders and keep their hands clean. Many here wish they could blame the CIC for every failing, but will have no luck making any of that stick.

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

When you come to a catch-22 you either do what the guy with the bigger rank say's or you don't. Then you go to trial.

I hope he gets proper due process and I'm OK with whatever the court decides.

My previous post presumed guilt, so take it as my stupid inner ape getting loose for a few minutes.

I should have made the argument you made.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 8 months ago

Soooo Diaz gets disbarred and Manning gets thrown in jail into solitary and not even allowed to have clothes or reading materials for over 2 years. Yet Fox News outs an entire secret CIA base and doesn't even get a slap on the wrist. I get it.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

Members of the armed forced are obligated to behave in a certain way while the press is not obligated to behave in the same manner.

Maracas 5 years, 8 months ago

Military personnel may not disseminate classified information to non-authorized personnel. It's no more difficult than that. When you do, you face the consequences. You are not a hero.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually Maracas made the point. If you do be prepared to pay the piper.

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