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There are probably few jobs more excruciating for an attorney than facing a wall of secrecy and being denied access to classified material to defend a client. That’s just what Mark Zaid — a solo practitioner who has represented dozens of CIA employees — encounters on most cases. “It’s an incredibly frustrating niche, because, for the most part, all bets are off,” Zaid says. “No rules exist, except in the sense that the agencies hold all the cards and we just try our best to operate within a system that really doesn’t exist.” As the CIA tape investigations in Congress and the Justice Department gather steam, Zaid’s specialty is in high demand. Roy Krieger, who until last year was a partner of Zaid, says people inside and outside the CIA with knowledge of the tapes are “lawyer shopping,” because “there’s going to be a lot of finger-pointing.” Krieger, who, along with Zaid, has represented hundreds of CIA employees, is a household name among CIA employees and frequently gets referrals by word-of-mouth. Attorneys in Krieger’s line of work need special security clearances to review personnel files that often contain assumed identities and other covert information. They say they obtain the clearances on a case-by-case basis, while other lawyers say they renew their clearances every number of years. But in the world of spies, there are no guarantees. “Even if you sign secrecy agreements and have security clearances, they still will not show you anything, because they will say, �You don’t have a need to know,’” says Janine Brookner, a 24-year CIA veteran turned attorney who successfully sued the agency in 1994 for sexual harassment. Because of such hurdles, some lawyers speculate that the CIA tape investigations will remain sealed and may never see the light of day in any courtroom. “The nature of the classified information that would have to be declassified .�.�. is so imposing and so voluminous it makes it highly unlikely that there would ever be a public trial,” says Ty Cobb, a Hogan & Hartson partner who specializes in white-collar criminal defense. Krieger, however, says he has never seen a Justice Department so quickly launch a criminal investigation after reviewing CIA Inspector General’s Office records. That suggests “we are going to have a wide-ranging and probing investigation,” he says. Nervous CIA employees have taken notice. William Sullivan Jr. of Winston & Strawn says he has been asked whether he would be open to representing CIA employees but as yet has not gotten a call. “My name is in play,” he says. Barbara Van Gelder, partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, says she’s been contacted by a few agency employees but advised them to wait until they are approached by investigators before lawyering up. Jose Rodriguez Jr., the ex-chief spy in charge of clandestine operations who gave orders to destroy the tapes, is being represented by Robert Bennett of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, while ex-CIA Director George Tenet has enlisted the services of former FBI general counsel Howard Shapiro of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Zaid is already representing ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou, who angered the agency and is now under investigation by the Justice Department for giving recent media interviews about the 2002 CIA tapes.
Pedro Ruz Gutierrez can be contacted at [email protected]. Reporter Joe Palazzolo contributed to this report.

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