The new commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison is seeking to impose new rules on communication between detainees and their lawyers, despite stern objections on the grounds that they violate legal ethics and constitutional rights.
The proposed rules, still in draft form, would allow a “privilege team” from the Defense Department to conduct security reviews of all communications to the prisoners and would restrict their correspondence to letters only, banning any supporting documents such as legal motions or articles about their case.
The commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility began imposing these new rules without issuing an order or informing the defense lawyers back in October, when he had military officials read their correspondence with the five defendants charged with involvement in the September 11th attacks.
At the time, the defense lawyers objected. “The review and censorship of legal materials will effectively grind litigation to a halt by barring legally required attorney-client communications,” the lawyers wrote in the letter to the Pentagon urging them to overturn what they said were new policies that violate attorney-client privileges.
The commander who ordered the change faced no consequences for this violation. But now the defense lawyers face an official ruling, contained in a 27-page draft memo, which would make this standard practice in their cases.
The prospect of civilian trials has already been ruled out for these accused detainees, imprisoned now for almost a decade. They have been subjected to severe torture during that time and now face impending military tribunals, where the standards of admissible evidence are much less stringent. If these proposed rules are established, their rights will be even further diminished.
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