IT workers gave federal prosecutors 540K emails in Gitmo defense lawyer directories

An order by the chief defense lawyer for Guantanamo Bay military tribunals that banned colleagues from using the Pentagon’s computer system for confidential documents and emails followed news that information technology workers for the government had shared 540,000 defense emails with prosecutors.

The sharing resulted from an apparently legitimate search, on behalf of prosecutors, for material they were entitled to see. But IT workers were unable to narrow search terms sufficiently to capture only the documents they sought, leading to the unauthorized turnover of hundreds of thousands of defense counsel emails, the Washington Post reports.

Prosecutors told defense lawyers they stopped reading as soon as they realized they were looking at confidential opposing counsel material. However, the email intrusion follows other computer and/or confidentiality issues. They include the discovery that “smoke detectors” in attorney-client meeting rooms were actually microphones and the loss of attorney documents, when IT workers tried, on behalf of the Defense Department, to upgrade its computer system and mirror at Guantanamo material that was available to defense counsel online in Washington, D.C.,

“Entire files, months of work was just gone,” said Navy Cmdr. Stephen C. Reyes, an attorney representing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of a leading role in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. “I have no evidence of any nefarious conduct, but it demonstrates again that we don’t have confidence that our files and communications are secure.”

Because of the document loss, his client was granted a two-month delay by Army Col. James Pohl, the military judge in charge of the tribunal that will try al-Nashiri.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Gitmo ‘smoke detector’ was a microphone, but official says lawyer-client talks weren’t monitored”

ABAJournal.com: “After Pentagon computer security issues, defense lawyers ordered not to email or draft docs online”

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