Rear Adm. David Woods, commander of the Guantánamo Bay prison, recently signed an order changing the rules governing the confidentiality of communications between prisoners and their attorneys. In general, the attorney-client privilege is the strongest evidentiary privilege, keeping information exchanged between a client and his or her attorney strictly confidential. The order imposes a “security review” authorizing law enforcement or intelligence officials as well as Defense Department attorneys to review legal mail sent to prisoners accused of war crimes. Reviewers are instructed to preserve the attorney-client privilege “to the fullest extent possible” but can disclose under certain circumstances information they deem to be “unauthorized” to other officials. Critics say that the new rules violate the prisoners’ constitutional right to counsel. For now, the new rules will apply only to the five prisoners accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks. However, prison officials may at a later time seek to expand the new rules to the remaining 166 prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, if they are ever tried.
/ / Guantánamo Commander Issues Order Whittling Down Attorney-Client Privilege