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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guantanamo rule change to require review of attorney letters in 9/11 case
Jamie Davis at 3:11 PM ET

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[JURIST] Navy rear Adm. David Woods [official website], commander of the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] prison facility, has proposed a new rule that would require military officials to review all legal correspondence between lawyers and the detainees accused of involvement in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks [JURIST Feature], the AP reported [text] Tuesday. The new rules would require all correspondence to the five detainees to undergo a security review by officials from law enforcement and the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website]. Woods has not yet signed the proposed rule change, but it was sent to lawyers for the prisoners with an order for them to sign and agree to the change. Lawyers for the prisoners responded to the proposed rule with a written memo stating that they did not agree to the rule because it violates attorney-client privilege and would erode their clients' right to counsel that is afforded by the US Constitution [text] and asked for more time to review the rule. The detainees, whose arraignment is anticipated to occur in 2012, include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive].

Lawyers for detainees at Guantanamo have raised concerns previously with practices used at the prison. In November, lawyers complained specifically about the infringement on attorney-client privilege [JURIST report] in a letter directed to the attention of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs. The attorneys alleged that those working with the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) seize, open, interpret, read and review attorney-client privileged communications, actions which the attorneys argued are unlawful. The five detainees have been held at Guantanamo since 2006 when they were transferred there from the custody of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In April, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the trials [JURIST report] for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other detainees are set to be held before a military commission. This was a change from Holder's previous position to conduct the trials in federal civilian court [JURIST report].

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