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Government Seeks to Control Detainees’ Access to Lawyers

Posted Aug 7, 2012 4:18 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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The Obama Administration on Monday sought court permission for military and government agencies, rather than , to control Guantanamo prisoners’ access to lawyers, SCOTUSblog reports.

A 2008 U.S. Supreme Court opinion guarantees the detainees the right to test their detention in court, and the matter of lawyer access has been under the control of federal district judges in Washington, according to the blog.

Under the plan (PDF), the Naval base commander at Guantanamo will get full veto power, without review, over the access question. Intelligence agencies would get veto power over access to classified information, “even if that information comes from the detainees themselves,” the blog notes.

The administration conceded to the court that it’s cut back on the legal rights of detainees who have had a chance to challenge their imprisonment, and it will consider easing the limits on a case-by-case basis. That would be at the government’s discretion, not by court order.

The issue is being considered by Royce C. Lamberth, chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Some detainee lawyers have asked him to keep the access issue in the court’s control.

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