Lawyer for 9/11 suspect challenges government review of legal correspondence

[JURIST] James Connell, defense lawyer for suspected 9/11 [JURIST backgrounder] conspirator Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, filed suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday challenging an order for military officials to read all legal correspondence between the lawyers of the suspected 9/11 conspirators and their clients. Rear Adm. David Woods [official profile] has testified [JURIST report] that the policy balances his responsibilities to facilitate attorney-client communication while also ensuring security, safety, guard protection and good order at the facility. Specifically Woods testified that the reviewers do not actually read correspondence, but simply look at mail to make sure each page is properly marked as privileged. However, Connell contends that the policy is unconstitutional [AP report] because it violates attorney-client privilege and represents illegal monitoring of a US citizen.

On Saturday Pentagon officials denied a request for an extension [JURIST report] of the filing deadline for pre-trial motions for the alleged 9/11 conspirators. The prisoners' lawyers stated that they needed the extension because of delays in getting security clearance and new restrictions on legal mail between the attorneys and their clients. Lawyers for Guantanamo [JURIST backgrounder] detainees complained [JURIST report] to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs in November that the Joint Task Force Guantanamo [official website] was making it impossible to do their jobs and was violating attorney-client privilege by seizing, opening, interpreting, reading and reviewing attorney-client privileged communications. Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and four other suspects were charged [JURIST report] in May with conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking aircraft, and terrorism for their alleged roles in connection with the 9/11 attacks.

 

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