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Gitmo Chief at Odds With DOJ?

Gabe Rottman,
Legislative Counsel,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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May 4, 2007

The Miami Herald (and, apparently, the Saudi Press Agency) interviewed Rear Admiral Harry Harris (seriously, Harry Harris?), commander of the Gitmo detention facility, about the DOJ’s proposed restrictions on access to counsel for the detainees. I must say, the Admiral’s retraction, if it is one, is awfully vague.

The Justice Department, in a filing with the federal circuit court of appeals, has argued that visits by civilian lawyers and attorney-client mail have caused “intractable problems and threats to security at Guantánamo.”It proposes limiting each detainee to three visits with a civilian attorney. That effort has roiled America’s legal establishment, drawing condemnation from newspaper editorials, the American Bar Association and other legal groups.A hearing is scheduled later this month at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.But in an interview with The Miami Herald and Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday evening, Rear Adm. Harry Harris, the commander, was supportive of the ongoing meetings between detainees and lawyers, known as habeas corpus counsel. He said they contributed to an image of transparency at the prison camps on this remote U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Um, yeah, and just withdrawing the DOJ petition would contribute even more to “transparency.” Unfortunately, even with effective access to counsel, you’re still stuck with the legal black hole problem. And I hear it’s tough for something to be transparent when even light can’t resist its gravitational pull.I learned that last bit on Star Trek (TOS, not TNG).

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