Legal Ethics

ABA President Calls for Probe of Attorney-Client Privilege Violations at Guantanamo


ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III is urging U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to reverse a new Guantanamo policy that appears to violate attorney-client privilege.

In a letter to Panetta dated Dec. 21, Robinson says lawyers for detainees are reporting that their privileged attorney-client communications are being intercepted and reviewed by the government. In some instances, materials referenced in the communications, such as newspaper articles and expert witness qualifications, are being withheld from detainees.

“A security rationale has been provided in response to the lawyers’ objections; however, there is no information about any security violation or incident that prompted the recent change in policy,” the letter (PDF) says.

Robinson says the new policy interferes with lawyers’ ability to provide adequate representation, maintain professional independence, and gain their clients’ trust.

“We therefore urge you to take prompt action to immediately rescind this policy and restore the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and Guantanamo detainees,” the letter says. “We respectfully request that the Inspectors General for the Department of Defense and the Justice Department investigate this matter and make their findings and conclusions public in a report. Finally, we request that the Office of Professional Responsibility in the Department of Justice determine how this serious breach occurred and take appropriate action to prevent any future violations of the attorney-client privilege.”

Also see:

ABANow: “ABA Urges Department of Defense to Rescind New Guantanamo Bay Policy”

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