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Claiming “intractable problems and threats to security,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a motion with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia seeking a protective order that would limit the access that lawyers could have to their detainee clients at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, and to evidence in their cases. In court papers, DOJ claims that “the legal mail and lawyer visit regime has been used to provide information to the enemy combatant detainees that presents security issues at the base and that exceed the legitimate purposes for which counsel access is provided.” DOJ seeks to limit counsel to three visits with their clients after an initial visit. It also seeks to restrict the definition of “legal mail” to exclude, among other things, information about news events or practices at Guant�namo. Moreover, it wants to set up a “privilege team” that would review all attorney-client communications, while purportedly protecting privilege by not sharing them with prosecutors. Oral argument is scheduled for May 15. This is just another example of the Bush administration undermining the rule of law by scapegoating lawyers. It may also be an attempt to deflect blame for its own role in the unrest at the prison. Lawyers representing detainees, as well as the American Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, have strongly � and appropriately � criticized this latest attempt by the government to deny detainees effective representation. President Bush’s proclamation last week to commemorate Law Day stated, in part: “Our system of separation of powers has safeguarded our liberties and helped ensure that we remain a government of laws. Law Day is an occasion for us to celebrate our Constitution and to honor those in the judiciary and legal profession who work to uphold and serve its principles.” Would that he and DOJ � already under a cloud for a host of alleged partisan activities � put those words into practice.

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