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Harping On Abu Ghraib and Gitmo is Highly Misguided

 
 
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2005 10:05 pm
This thread is based on a post I made in a different thread and contains some quotation from my post there.

There can be no disputing the fact that any mistreatment of prisoners by the US and allies is deplorable, and that those responsible must be punished. However, it is my opinion that while we are in a battle with a brutal enemy bent on our distruction, those people who harp on every real or imagined American sin, but seem unaware of the much worse behavior of the enemy, and undermine, rather than promote, our success in the battle, are very misguided. They always present it as patriotic behavior, but it looks like the opposite to me.

When I recall how our people (men, women, and children) were murdered on 9/11, and when I consider what Al Qaeda would do to my country and countrymen if allowed to, and when I consider how Al Qaeda treats their prisoners (e.g. heads sawed off), winning the war with them is much higher on my list of priorities than how we are wronging our prisoners. The latter is on the list, and abuses should not be tolerated, but I am much more concerned with the wellbeing of my country. To be in a war with a brutal, implacable enemy and most concerned about how you are wronging him strikes me as very perverse.
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goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 05:40 am
Brandon - from outside the US it looks pretty crook. When sufficient Americans wake up to the fact that it's pretty crook and also counter-productive they'll toss out the Republicans. Mate they've got it wrong. They went about it the wrong way completely. They haven't made America safe, they've made you more vulnerable and they've made you scared.

Let me give you an example. Earlier this year I flew from Australia to Toronto. I went via Hong Kong. I spent a night in Hong Kong. Great place. The airport is fantastic. And totally relaxed. Security was as one would expect from any major international airport but not intrusive. Then I flew to San Francisco. I spent a night in San Francisco. I was searched, had to take my shoes off etc. That didn't fuss me but I did note how different it was from Hong Kong. There was fear. The pleasant voice of the woman over the pa warning me every ten minutes or so to keep a watch for unattended baggage and what have you got really annoying after a while. But it also made me think "well, if it takes this it has to be done." Then onto Chicago O'Hare and on to Pearson. On the way back I was shunted into the US security at Pearson and while technically still in Canada was welcomed to the US and went through immigration and security. Searched again. Shoes off etc. Then back through O'Hare and back through San Francisco. Searched, shoes off, voice of the lady warning me about unattended baggage. Pretty soon it disappeared into the background. I've been to North America a few times but never have I seen the fear I saw on this trip.

Your enemies don't have to lift a finger. Your administration has done the work for them.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:04 am
goodfielder wrote:
Brandon - from outside the US it looks pretty crook. ...Your enemies don't have to lift a finger. Your administration has done the work for them.

The assumption that we think what we think because Bush told us to is very annoying. Many of us voted for Bush because he appeared to agree with opinions we already had. The simplistic assumption that Bush told us something and we were deceived makes your argument simpler, but it's nonsense. Al Qaeda actually is bent on our destruction. Look at the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the Cole, etc. In a world in which WMD technologoy becomes more accessible every day, this is something we can't ignore.
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thethinkfactory
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:12 am
Brandon:

That is not what he said. Breathe and re-read.

Terrorism as a word means to employ tactics that bring about fear and trembling to it's intended targets.

Our administration has done a really good job of it. You want other to question thier assumptions in this case because you think they are off base. What you do not question is:

1) We are better off now - "protected" from the terrorists.
2) What we have done by 'hunting them down and smoking them out' has garnered us more safety than before.
3) That the methods we have employed have not contributed to the general sense of fear and terror.

The proof for this is our track record and Al-Queda themselves. We funded, trained, and essentially put them in power because they temporarly helped us oust the Russians from Afghanistan. We created this beast, trained them, and are all freaked out when they bit the hand that fed them. You atleast must see that our previous track record might lead our current tactics to bite us again. Gitmo and Abu Garib simply are real time examples of the biting of poor tactics and principles - designed for temporary gain without long term ramifications in mind.

The terror alerts, the general sense of 'us v. the world', the invasion of two countries that, to the rest of the muslim world, represent a religious invasion, the patriot act, and other tactics Goodfielder was trying to say has replaced the need for terrorists - we are doing it ourselves.

He was giving a story of an airport as an outside observer to show how terrifying flying in America is.

TTF
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revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:25 am
I realize this thread addresses the abuse scandals but regarding the Patriot Act I read a surprising news articles this morning about the GOP in the house voting to curb the library intrustions.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/15/AR2005061501953.html

Quote:
The House handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the USA Patriot Act, voting yesterday to curtail the FBI's ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations.


Regarding the abuse vs. our safety I think TTF said it much better than I could so will leave it at that.
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woiyo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:29 am
When US Senators, take to the floor of the Senate and compare our troops to Nazi's in the way we "abuse" prisioners, our troops become more of a target for these terrorists thugs.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/

"Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, took the Senate floor yesterday and likened American servicemen to Nazis (link in PDF):

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

We are fighting an enemy that murdered 3,000 innocent people on American soil 3 1/2 years ago and would murder millions more if given the chance--and according to Dick Durbin, our soldiers are the Nazis."

There is NO WAY anyone can convince me that the actions of a FEW, call for these kinds of statements from a US Senator.

This Senator to me is a traitor and has put soldiers at risk for the sole prupose of enhancing HIS left wing, pacifist agenda.
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thethinkfactory
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:31 am
This is simple. My focus on Gitmo is not that they are being tortured, or Korans are being burned... (This may be the case - but until we have proof - as hard as that might be - I will fall silent on that). In Abu Garib the torture was photographed - no speculation there.

However the pertainant fact is that we have hundreds of people and have detained them, without rights, against our and international law, and have done so in the name of freedom and rights.

One simple thing is needed. Give them the due process they are owed as human beings.

Attrocity may be a bit steep - but I don't think it is out of line. Due process is such an ingrained portion of our rights that it goes directly against the American conceptions of rights to deny it - no matter what any administration wants to term these detainees.

Furthermore, to hear the administration keep reminding us that they are 'bad men' and hope that sates our intelligence or sense of justice is a farce. Here is why: Innocent until due process proves them guilty.

We must focus on these places as signs of our conception of freedom. Which right now means abridgin the due process and (what we believe) are our God given rights. Can I be considered an 'enemy combatant' - without any chance to represent myself or face formal charges - how could I ever prove otherwise?

Furthermore, look at the measures we have taken inside our borders, The Patriot act strengthed the goverments ability to observe members of its own citizenry - not so called terrorists abroad. Put these together, and you have a greater ease to get information about Americans and a precedent to pick them up and 'disapear' them without charges.

Why should we not focus on it? I have made my case and would love to hear why we should not?

TF

TF
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Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:33 am
Brandon,
Forget about sawed off heads for one moment and read what goodfielder and thethinkfactory have written. They make very good and objectivie points to which you appear to dismiss as Bush bashing.
Rolling Eyes
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woiyo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:36 am
Your case is totally misguided and irresponsible.

You compare these prisioners to common criminals which they are NOT. They are being treated as PRISIONERS OF WAR and are being held. Since when is a POW granted rights under civil law? Was Sen. McCain granted any trial when he was a POW?? Since when is a POW allowed to have a "jury trial"?

You position is naive to these facts .
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Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:38 am
woiyo wrote:

Quote:
We are fighting an enemy that murdered 3,000 innocent people on American soil 3 1/2 years ago and would murder millions more if given the chance--


I didn't know that it was Iraq who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001. History is now rewritten.
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thethinkfactory
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:38 am
woiyo wrote:
When US Senators, take to the floor of the Senate and compare our troops to Nazi's in the way we "abuse" prisioners, our troops become more of a target for these terrorists thugs.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/

"This Senator to me is a traitor and has put soldiers at risk for the sole prupose of enhancing HIS left wing, pacifist agenda."


So the non-nationals are branded as traitors? Where have I heard this before?

I would say Nazi gemany - but then I would be a trator. Unless the opinion journal wants to forward the story or argue seriously that what Abu Garib and Gitmo represent is not Unamerican - thier points are fairly worthless but lately have passed as news.

It may be sensationalist - but no more sensationalist than calling senators traitors for doing thier jobs.


TF
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woiyo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:53 am
How can a POW Camp be "un-american"?

You all keep bitching and complaining that these POW's be treated according to the terms of the Geneva convention. When we set up POW camps persuant to the Geneva Convention, you bitch and complain that the POW's should be afforded rights under US Civil Law.

Apparently you do not know which position to take since you all continue to bitch and complain about everything.

They are POW's. They have no rights under civil law.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:55 am
Woiyo, the detainees in Gitmo are not POW's. They are illegal combatants. POW's are eligible for the full protection of the Geneva conventions. The camps in Iraq full of Iraqi soldiers are POW camps.

Please do not confuse the two as they have very different rights and protections.
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revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 06:59 am
woiyo wrote:
Your case is totally misguided and irresponsible.

You compare these prisioners to common criminals which they are NOT. They are being treated as PRISIONERS OF WAR and are being held. Since when is a POW granted rights under civil law? Was Sen. McCain granted any trial when he was a POW?? Since when is a POW allowed to have a "jury trial"?

You position is naive to these facts .


If they are prisoners of war then they are afforded the geneva convention if they are not prisoners of war then they are alleged terrorist and are afforded the right to defend themselves in a court of law.
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 07:13 am
Intrepid wrote:
woiyo wrote:

Quote:
We are fighting an enemy that murdered 3,000 innocent people on American soil 3 1/2 years ago and would murder millions more if given the chance--


I didn't know that it was Iraq who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001. History is now rewritten.


and wasn't that the idea then? :wink:

This begs the question "Who is more dangerous to America? Those who re-write history or those who eagerly read it and accept it without question?"
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thethinkfactory
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 07:20 am
McGentrix wrote:
Woiyo, the detainees in Gitmo are not POW's. They are illegal combatants. POW's are eligible for the full protection of the Geneva conventions. The camps in Iraq full of Iraqi soldiers are POW camps.

Please do not confuse the two as they have very different rights and protections.


Thanks McGentrix - my thoughts and the law exactly.

We want to call them enemy combatants but not give them POW status OR terrorist status and give them a trial.

Limbo status is what they get - and this is unamerican.

TF
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woiyo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 07:21 am
McGentrix wrote:
Woiyo, the detainees in Gitmo are not POW's. They are illegal combatants. POW's are eligible for the full protection of the Geneva conventions. The camps in Iraq full of Iraqi soldiers are POW camps.

Please do not confuse the two as they have very different rights and protections.


I understand the distinction. The point I am trying to show here is the contradictory nature of the left wing. On one hand, they want Gitmo prisioners treated under the terms of the GC. Then they say they deserve rights granted under civil law. Apparently they do not know what they want.
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 07:25 am
woiyo wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
Woiyo, the detainees in Gitmo are not POW's. They are illegal combatants. POW's are eligible for the full protection of the Geneva conventions. The camps in Iraq full of Iraqi soldiers are POW camps.

Please do not confuse the two as they have very different rights and protections.


I understand the distinction. The point I am trying to show here is the contradictory nature of the left wing. On one hand, they want Gitmo prisioners treated under the terms of the GC. Then they say they deserve rights granted under civil law. Apparently they do not know what they want.


sure they know what they want. they think bush and company are immoral scumbags and war profiteers and they are taking any and every opportunity to drive that point home.

Like the right wing does with a wide range of issues like gay marriage, Terri Schiavo, evolution in the schools etc. Whats's good for the goose is good for the gander. end of story.
0 Replies
 
woiyo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 07:26 am
http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002026795


"Presidential authority to detain "enemy combatants".


by Jennifer K. Elsea


President Bush claims the power, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, to determine that any person, including an American citizen, who is suspected of being a member, agent, or associate of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or possibly any other terrorist organization, is an "enemy combatant" who can be detained in U.S. military custody until hostilities end, pursuant to the international law of war (Dworkin 2002). Attorney General John Ashcroft has taken the view that the authority to detain "enemy combatants" belongs to the president alone, and that any interference in that authority by Congress would thus be unconstitutional (U.S. Senate 2002). Even if congressional authority were necessary, the government argues, such permission can be found in the Authorization to Use Force (AUF; Pub. L. No. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224 [2001]). So far, the courts have agreed that Congress has authorized the detention of "enemy combatants." "

Seems very clear to me.
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revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2005 08:10 am
One year ago, the Supreme Court told the Bush administration that in America, even detainees swept up in the war on terror and held at the military's Guantanamo Bay prison camp were entitled to a day in court to contest their imprisonment.

Faruq Ali Ahmed is still waiting. A young Yemeni picked up in Pakistan in 2001, he has been held since then despite his insistence that he was doing nothing but teaching the Quran to children when war broke out. He is detained in part on the basis of accusations from a camp snitch who a military officer has denounced as a liar.

Like scores of other prisoners confined at the Caribbean outpost, Ahmed has a lawyer and has filed a court challenge to his detention. But a year later, the hopes raised by the Supreme Court's precedent-setting decision in Rasul v. Bush last June 28 have yet to be fulfilled. No prisoners have yet had court hearings on whether they should be confined. Instead, they have faced a labyrinth of legal delays and a pattern of government resistance, serving as pawns in a remarkable legal drama that their lawyers say has stopped just short of obstruction of a mandate from the nation's highest court.

"I think it's pretty clear what the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling was," says Mark Falkoff, a New York lawyer who represents Ahmed and other Yemenis. "But the government position is still that Guantanamo is a legal black hole and the courts should butt out, and the military has fought every step of the way to vindicate that idea."

Flashpoint in Cuba

The anniversary of the Rasul decision comes amid a crescendo of concerns about Guantanamo. Even Republicans have begun talking about closing it, and the complaints about circumvention of the Supreme Court are expected to form a key subtext to Senate hearings today on the future of the prison camp, triggered by reports of Quran abuse and other prisoner mistreatment.

The Bush administration staunchly defends the management of Guantanamo. It says it has complied with the Supreme Court decision, providing fair hearings for all prisoners through military tribunals. While the Justice Department would not comment on the lawyers' criticism, the Pentagon said it has made "extraordinary efforts" to enable the lawyers' work, but "we also have a responsibility to ensure that national security is maintained."

In the tribunals, military officers have found the military was correct in holding 520 of 558 prisoners as enemy combatants. The dozens of volunteer lawyers who filed court petitions for prisoners after last year's ruling say the tribunals -- which excluded lawyers -- were unfair, and many prisoners are wrongly held.

At the same time, the government has fended off court intervention with a narrow reading of the Supreme Court decision, arguing that it did not approve judges overseeing "war operations," and has stymied the lawyers with a litigious approach and an obstacle course of security restrictions.

In court, they have faced resistance on such fundamental matters as whether lawyers have a right of access to their clients, notification if a client is designated for shipment to a foreign prison, and representation for prisoners who send forlorn pleas to the court on their own.

Lawyers outraged

On the ground, the military has set up a system that delays legal correspondence for weeks and requires lawyers from around the country to write motions at a single secure facility in Virginia. It has tried to edit out detainees' claims of mistreatment from the public record. Detainees have alleged that interrogators have tried to turn them against their lawyers.

"I think it has really crossed the line," said Washington lawyer Tom Wilner, who represents 12 Kuwaiti detainees. "The government has taken the attitude that the law is an impediment you have to avoid."

The Pentagon adamantly denies it has interfered with lawyer-client relationships. It says the other steps are not designed to hamper prisoners' legal rights and have been subject to court oversight.

"Simply put, these procedures exist to protect national security," said a Defense Department spokesperson.

The prison was opened in 2002 as a repository for those captured in the war in Afghanistan and its aftermath. The Bush administration said they were entitled to "humanitarian" treatment but were not protected by the Geneva Conventions or U.S. law. Soon after, lawyers for a few detainees' families filed court cases seeking writs of habeas corpus -- the centuries-old power that allows a judge to review the legality of a detention. The Bush administration said the courts had no jurisdiction, but a 6-3 Supreme Court majority disagreed.

Government resistance began the very next day, when the Justice Department told the trial judge handling the cases that it wasn't sure lawyers had a legal right of access to their clients at Guantanamo. She eventually ruled that they did, but it was Labor Day -- two months after the Supreme Court ruling -- when the first lawyer got to Guantanamo. That fight set the tone.

Legal Catch 22

The government's position: The Supreme Court gave prisoners the procedural ability to file court petitions but not any substantive rights to assert once they got there. It argues the military tribunals resolved all questions on whether prisoners were properly held, and it now wants to dismiss all the court petitions. That key issue is before an appeals court.

Detainee lawyers, on the other hand, say the government has taken an absurd view of the Supreme Court ruling and meanwhile has wrongly kept the fate of hundreds of men in the hands of tribunals answerable to the Pentagon. The tribunal hearings, they say, form a key backdrop to the problems the lawyers have encountered and show why the government is resisting intrusion by neutral judges.

In Ahmed's case, for example, he was accused of having wielded an AK-47 as a guard at Osama bin Laden's personal airport. He told the tribunal it was completely false, according to a transcript, but wasn't told who accused him. Later, in an unusual step, Ahmed's military personal representative (an officer assigned to prepare each detainee for his hearing) attached a statement indicating a prime accuser was a camp snitch who had lied repeatedly to get preferable treatment.

"Had the Tribunal taken this evidence out as unreliable," the officer wrote, "then the position we have taken is that a teacher of the Quran (to the Taliban's children) is an enemy combatant (partially because he slept under a Taliban roof)."

The Pentagon declined to comment on specific cases.

Ahmed's case and others, lawyers say, reflect fundamental problems. Prisoners learn only general charges, while the specifics on which panels rely are classified. They can't cross-examine or insist on witnesses.

"The tribunals," said Scott Sullivan, the lawyer for another group of Yemenis, "are all about one side of the story."

While they believe such cases show fair hearings can occur only in courts, prisoner lawyers complain that the government has deployed an array of practical hurdles to make it as hard as possible for them to help their clients.

Lawyers, for example, have to wait weeks and months for security clearances. Any materials they want to bring to a detainee -- legal papers, introductions from families -- have to be submitted for military screening and sometimes are prohibited or redacted. Family correspondence has been banned as "non-legal" material, and some lawyers believe that's because access to it is a useful carrot in interrogations.

Dictionary as spy tool?

Some restrictions, lawyers complain, are petty. Translation dictionaries to help clients understand English legal filings have been deemed a security risk because they might help prisoners collect information.

"It's hard to imagine what material espionage advantage a small, clumsy dictionary could conceivably provide," noted Baher Azmy, lawyer for Turkish detainee Murat Kurnaz, in a January e-mail exchange with a Justice Department lawyer.

Once at Guantanamo, it takes the lawyers an hour each way to reach interview rooms. They can't use the Internet connection nearby. Everything clients say is presumed to be classified. Notes must be turned over to guards, and they are sent to a Pentagon facility in Virginia. At least once, interview notes were lost en route.

Until the information is reviewed and cleared by a military team, the lawyers say, they can't discuss it with anyone without security clearance or use it to write motions in their office. Lawyers from around the country all have to go to Virginia to review notes and write motions. Lawyers say decisions about what to clear can take weeks and don't always involve real security concerns.

For example, Muneer Ahmed, an American University law professor representing Canadian detainee Omar Khadr, was told by his client of severe mistreatment at Guantanamo. In Virginia, he says, the military refused to declassify all 20 paragraphs in his notes about alleged abuse. He challenged the practice, and finally, in January, the reviewers began to declassify such claims, allowing lawyers to go public. The episode convinced Ahmed the process is "a sham."

All legal correspondence to and from Guantanamo follows a similar, time-consuming route through Virginia. Complaints -- about guards inspecting legal papers or denial of medical treatment -- often are stale by the time they arrive, lawyers say.

Brent Mickum, a Washington lawyer, said it took him six weeks late last year to receive letters from a Jordanian client complaining that he was put in isolation because he wanted to pass on the names of five other prisoners who wanted lawyers.

"My client says he's been thrown into isolation for doing something that shouldn't be against the rules, and it's taking me well over a month to find out about it," Mickum said.

Claims of stonewalling

While client correspondence is delayed, lawyers say, getting information from the military has been even harder. Some say that despite security clearances, they haven't gotten classified evidence used by tribunals. Others haven't been able to get client medical records that might document abuse.

"You kind of wonder whether we're all working from the same Constitution," says Boston lawyer Rob Kirsch. His firm filed a freedom-of-information suit to try to get medical records on six Bosnian clients who claim abuse.

Some of the most serious allegations focus on interference with the lawyer-client relationship. Several lawyers say prisoners have told them that guards and interrogators have looked at private legal papers, questioned them about their meetings with lawyers and suggested that inmates with lawyers will wait longer to get out. Wilner, in one court filing, alleges that an interrogator asked a Kuwaiti client, "Did you know your lawyers are Jews?"

The Defense Department adamantly denies that and other claims of intrusion into lawyer-client relationships. Other measures, it says, are overseen by courts and designed to ensure safety from dangerous men, not to hamper lawyers.

"It would be irresponsible for the Department of Defense to fail to take measures to ensure that the detainees are not a threat ... or that classified information is not inadvertently released," said the Defense spokesperson.
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.
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