ABA President Dennis W. Archer “Delighted” that Pentagon Has Changed Rules Governing Lawyers who Defend Terrorism Suspects
SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 6, 2004 — American Bar Association President Dennis W. Archer at his news conference today expressed pleasure at the recent Pentagon decision to change some of the rules for lawyers who defend terrorism suspects, and noted the association’s long-standing vigilance concerning rules governing enemy combatants and military tribunals.
“As lawyers, our responsibility is to protect the Constitution, in times of peace as well as times of conflict. We need to be vigilant to ensure that our national security does not come at the expense of our Constitution and that our country maintains its principled fairness and demonstrated respect for the rule of law,” said Archer. “We are delighted that the ABA’s positions and policies have been helpful to the Bush administration to provide fair trials for those suspected of terrorism.”
Today, the Department of Defense announced rules that will make it easier for defense lawyers to represent people before military tribunals who are suspected of terrorism, by limiting the government’s ability to monitor conversations with their lawyers. Rules restricting the types of lawyers who represent those suspects have been relaxed as well, so that legal help is more accessible.
At the association’s 2003 Annual Meeting, its policy-making House of Delegates adopted policy calling on Congress and the executive branch to ensure that any defendant in military tribunals receive zealous and effective legal counsel, including access to civilian lawyers. Additional ABA policy urges that people designated as “enemy combatants” be given the same opportunities for meaningful judicial review and access to a lawyer as other defendants.
On Monday, Feb. 9, the ABA House of Delegates will debate a recommendation urging U.S. courts to exercise jurisdiction over petitions for habeas corpus filed by foreign nationals challenging the legality of their detention at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership association in the world. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public.