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United States

Government to Eavesdrop on Lawyer-Client Conversations 508

An Anonymous Coward writes: "This CNN article outlines the justice department's plans to start monitoring lawyer-client communications of detainees. The decision was made by the justice department without any public debate or the involvement of the Senate or Congress. It's astonishing how easily a basic civil right such as the right to counsel is taken away!" The ACLU is, predictably, opposed.
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Government to Eavesdrop on Lawyer-Client Conversations

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  • by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <dredd@megacity.org> on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:11PM (#2546408) Homepage
    Not to say "I told you so", because I'm preaching to the choir, but this is just another step towards ensuring that the citizens of this modern day Republic can become subjects of an oppressive government again.

    This is completely useless against terrorists. Terrorists don't hire lawyers and chat about their actions beforehand. Terrorists plan long and quietly, and then without warning even their friends and roommates, they blow shit up.

    The only excuse for policies such as this is to enable fishing expeditions where people "suspected" of something can have their rights and privacy stripped away from them without them even knowing it.

    • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:33PM (#2546571) Homepage Journal
      Oh, you're just paranoid, when are you going to learn to trust President Ashcroft?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Oh, you're just paranoid, when are you going to learn to trust President Ashcroft?

        President Cheney wants to have a word with you!
    • Terrorists don't hire lawyers and chat about their actions beforehand.

      That's correct. But they can also call "Joe Terrorist" his "lawyer" and plan more terrorist activity from his jail cell.

      If we have good intelligence that some "lawyer" is actually a conduit in order to plan more terrorist activity, I think it's reasonable not to be idiots and let them do it.

      • Ah... usually in order to be a lawyer, and be entitled to that privilege, you have to be a REAL lawyer. You can't just call yourself a lawyer, that's illegal. There are licensing requirements in order to practice law, detailed background checks, etc. None of this crap with quotation marks seems applicable.
  • by peripatetic_bum ( 211859 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:11PM (#2546411) Homepage Journal
    I dont know if you know this, but the I remember the 'BAR' made a new resolution that if a lawyer knows his 'client' is actively breaking the law that he needs to report him. It seems that there seems to be a shift from the wildly permissive atitude of a lawyer-client privacy to a more balanced view, but if this CNN report is true, then who isnt safe from being 'listened' in on, without any due process.
    • There is a difference between actively breaking the law and having broken a law. There is nothing that a defendent should be able to say to her attorney that can incriminate them further or hurt their chances. Basically, if you can not trust your attorney, who can you trust?

      If you are breaking the law, being a lawyer does not give you a license to be a consigliere.

      So basically, in my opinion what you cited is a good point, but not necessarily related to bugging attorney-client conversations.

      www.nedyah.org
    • by srvivn21 ( 410280 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @07:36PM (#2546861)
      Three things...

      1) Anyone who is not a federal inmate is safe. For now.

      2) "inmates being held must be told of the monitoring"

      3) "Such monitoring...has been allowed in the past through court order."

      This is not the giant sweeping step torwards a police state that many are making it out to be. More it's a baby-step, or even a subtle side step torwards said police state. Incremental changes do need attention brought against them, but incremental changes call for moderate reaction. If you go shouting "Ahhhhh! Police state! Police state!" at every little reduction of liberty, most people will become desensitized to the reaction.
      • Removing judicial oversight is a *huge* step.

        Think about it. Justice will have no problem getting a federal judge to grant them that right in today's climate for today's terrorist suspects. They can get it in a matter of hours, and the suspect's in custody and ain't going anywhere for a bit anyway.

        The AG has given us no evidence that the courts have hindered them in any way in their efforts to investigate this act of terrorism, past acts of terrorism, or any acts that may lead to future terrorism.

        Ashcraft's taking advantage of the situation to remove judicial oversight because he knows that he can get away with it in today's climate. And can then proceed to use it in those cases where a federal judge is likely to say "no". Cases where it is unwarranted, in other words, and cases not connected to recent terrorist events...

        If you don't think the goal is to eventually gain the right to monitor client-attorney communications for *all* suspects in jail, you're smokin' something far too strong to be good for your mental health...
  • upside down.
  • by melquiades ( 314628 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:13PM (#2546428) Homepage
    I'm hazy on the subject, but I believe that there is no constitutional right to lawyer-client privacy. I'm under the impression that, like therapist confidentiality, it's mostly a matter of common consensus -- the bar association and the government have simply agreed to uphold this as a tradition. IIRC, there was some great contoversy last year when the bar association decided to relax its policy to allow lawyers to step forward with privileged information which presented a clear and direct threat to the safety of others.

    Is my understanding correct? Is there any consitutional protection, or protection in federal law, of attorney-client privilege?

    Is it time to propose a new consitutional amendment?
    • Client-attorny privlage is back by many, many laws, and history.
    • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:35PM (#2546591)
      (IANAL, but am someone who tries to keep current on civil liberty issues... so take everything with a grain of salt...)

      One spouse cannot be forced to testify against the other because, under the law, they are often considered a single individual. This is why it too so long for spousal rape and domestic violence laws to be passed - it wasn't (just) a bunch of good old boys who didn't see a problem, but a delicate balancing act between a centuries old tradition and modern concerns - the legislatures wanted to avoid accidently wiping out all marital privilege. It's also why homosexual spouses want legally recognized marriages - marriage includes a lot of rights which no civil contract, alone, can provide.

      IIRC, lawyer-client privilege follows a similar argument. Everyone is expected and required to understand the law, but that requires the ability to freely consult experts (lawyers) for advice. So the law squints and say that lawyers are in essence an extension of the person *when discussion prior acts*, or to a limited extend future acts. Same thing with cleric-penitent privilege and doctor-patient privilege.

      However, lawyers have never been able to give unfettered advice regarding future actions by the client. E.g., your lawyer can't be compelled to reveal that you admitted killing a business rival (N.B., "killing" is an act, "manslaughter," "murder" et al are legal evaluations), but it's a very different thing if you ask your lawyer how you can kill a business rival in the future and face no more than a manslaughter conviction.

      It sounds like the DoJ is just seeking to formally recognize that some detainees may be seeking to use their lawyers as agents of future violence, not just sources of legal advice, and wish to prevent that. Risky, but not unreasonable.
      • > It sounds like the DoJ is just seeking to formally recognize that some detainees may be seeking to use their lawyers as agents of future violence, not just sources of legal advice, and wish to prevent that. Risky, but not unreasonable.

        Agreed.

        Diplomatic immunity does not give blanket authorization to commit acts of espionage. (That is, diplomats may themselves be spied upon, and expelled if involved in activities inconsistent with their privileged diplomatic status.)

        Likewise, attorney-client privilege ought not to be used as authorization to facilitate conspiracy. (By way of analogy, attorneys suspected of facilitating the crimes of their clients are as subject to search as their clients, and attorney-client privilege - a privilege granted by the state - ought to be revocable in cases where such facilitation has been established.)

      • t sounds like the DoJ is just seeking to formally recognize that some detainees may be seeking to use their lawyers as agents of future violence, not just sources of legal advice, and wish to prevent that. Risky, but not unreasonable.

        Do we really have any evidence that such a thing has actually occurred, or is even likely to occur? Seems to me that occam's razor would indicate that Ashcroft is using 9/11 cynically to get an agenda across that has not one damn thing to do with terrorism.

    • I believe it's a spin off of the right to a fair trial. If you can't talk to your lawyer in absolute confidence, then you can't get the best possible defense, because you can't tell him all the facts without risking things. It's similar to the interpretation that grants the right to council and offers to provide one free of charge...to insure that the defendant has a quality defense.
      • If you add your argument to the argument of the poster previous to you you get a fuller picture of the issue.

        Everyone has heard the term "power of attorney" and has some rough idea of what that means. Few know the meaning of the attorney though. It simply means representitive. One could consider one's house contractor an "attorney at plumbing." Someone with the power of attorney is someone who is legally recognized as being able to act * as if they were you.*

        Your attorney at law is, in some very real legal asspects, you. YOU cannot be made to testify agaisnt yourself.

        Add to that the right to fair trial, which is impossible if you cannot talk freely and confidently to your own attorney, who is just a legal extension of yourself, and you the basis for attorney-client privilege.

        The important part that has been left out of this discussion so far is the process of discovery. Just because you tell your lawyer something dosn't mean he can't reveal it. He MUST reveal everything to the prosocution that the prosocution has the legal right to know. There is a system of legal checks and balances at work here and the process of discovery, which happens out of the view of the public, is perhaps the most important role of the defense attorney. You talk to your attorney, he sifts through what you have told him and protects your right not to testify against yourself by revealing to the prosocution only that which the prosocution has a right to know.

        Without this balance of "power of information" constitutional rights would be absolutely unenforcable.

        KFG
    • by flaxster1 ( 155102 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @07:33PM (#2546846)
      The attorney-client privilege is a basic component of the "Right to the Assistance of Counsel" secured to the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The main exception to the privilege involves disclosures about future crimes, but -- until now -- the government has not sought to "enforce" this exception by openly eavesdropping on attorney-client conversations. A classic attorney-client privilege problem arises when, in the middle of a trial, the defendant confesses to his (or her) lawyer. Should the lawyer disclose the confession to the judge? (Not in the US.) How vigorous should the lawyer be in asserting his (or her) client's innocence? (This should be unaffected.) What if the client wants to testify and offer testimony which -- because of the confession -- the lawyer knows to be false? (A lawyer cannot prohibit a defendant from testifying but it's wrong to assist the defendant in presenting a story that the lawyer knows to be false. One answer is simply to ask the defendant to "tell the ladies and gentleman of the jury what happened."

      In the United States, therapist confidentiality is secured by statutes (just about every state recognizes some sort of therapist confidentiality) or by rule -- the United States Supreme Court relied on the Federal Rules of Evidence when it recognized a psychotherapist-client privilege in 1996.

      If the AG's present proposal is adopted, and upheld by the courts, it will be another victory for those seeking to destroy the "American way of life."

      When a shepherd visibly counts goats as sheep, who will do business with him in the market place when he comes to sell his flock?

  • by Zach` ( 71927 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:13PM (#2546431)
    It's astonishing how easily a basic civil right such as the right to counsel is taken away!

    I would love to see how the right to counsel is being taken away. As far as I can tell, the only 'right' being taken away is that of privacy, which is automatically given up when you're a federal detainee. You should have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Now, if you'd like to discuss how attorney-client privelege is being taken away, that'd be something different. But please don't spread FUD that civil rights to counsel are being taken away. That's absolutely ludicrous.

    Please, also note how exactly the information is going to be used.
    • "No information that is protected by attorney-client privilege may be used for prosecution," the statement said. "There is not protection however, for communications related to the client's ongoing or contemplated illegal acts."
    There's massive differences between the two. Get them straight before you whine about terrorist's rights being taken away.
    • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:18PM (#2546463)
      I would love to see how the right to counsel is being taken away. As far as I can tell, the only 'right' being taken away is that of privacy, which is automatically given up when you're a federal detainee. You should have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
      After you are convicted of a crime, you have no expectation of privacy in prison. Before you are convicted of a crime, you are "innocent until proven guilty" and retain all your rights as a citizen (not that that seems to mean much to Mr. Ashcroft). Thousands of people with "funny sounding" names were swept up after 9/11 and remain behind bars; that does not mean that they are guilty of anything.

      sPh

    • I would love to see how the right to counsel is being taken away. As far as I can tell, the only 'right' being taken away is that of privacy, which is automatically given up when you're a federal detainee. You should have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

      In this article [nationalpost.com] this right has already been taken away from Canadians. (sorry for the annoying ad on the right - if you right click you can stop it from playing...)


      It goes to the right of testifying against oneself. In the US, I believe you call it the "Fifth Amendment".


      Here's the scenario: You talk to your lawyer, being honest with him, to discuss your methods of defense. As of yesterday he must tell the authorities what you said, and not tell you that he is doing so.


      In an adversarial justice system, such as we have, it is the responsibility of the Crown (government) to prove - beyond a reasonable doubt - your guilt. But with these new laws - your lawyer gets to tell the government details *retroactively* about your confession to him. It not only covers matters before the court, but past crimes as well. Once the door is open - it's wide open.


      Essentially, you testified against yourself by assuming client-solicitor confidentially.

    • "No information that is protected by attorney-client privilege may be used for prosecution," the statement said. "There is not protection however, for communications related to the client's ongoing or contemplated illegal acts."

      Right, and we can really believe that FBI Agent #1 won't tip off FBI Agent #2 to what he heard while monitoring Federal Suspect #3. Sure. The FBI would never do anything like engage in campaigns of surveillance and harassment against law-abiding political dissidents or civil rights activists, or ever do really nasty crap like try to pressure someone like Martin Luther King to commit suicide. No, of course not. Our state security agencies would never do anything like that again. Right?

      Why is it that so many people who will pursue server security with a level of paranoia approaching psychosis are totally unconcerned with protecting their civil rights against liberty crackers like John Ashcroft?

  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:14PM (#2546437) Homepage
    The biggest problem I see with this is that even if the DOJ followed the rules and didn't misuse the information, there's no way for a defendant in criminal prosecution to be sure. If you are being prosecuted and you know that your every conversation with your attorney is being listened too, how forthcoming will you be with them? You can't assume that the DOJ isn't breaking their own rules, so you clam up. The end result is that defense attorneys may have less information to work with and will be unable to build a proper defense for their clients. Eventually the courts will probably tell the DOJ they can't do this but in the mean time, how many people's legal cases will be effected by this new policy.

    I find it bitterly ironic that we here Bush and crew saying that we are fighting for our way of life and for civilization, yet at the same time, they are doing their best to damage the freedoms that are key to that way of life. They say we need to go on with life as usual and not let the terrorists effect us, but it's not like they are leading by example here.
  • Read the article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) <mister.sketch@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:15PM (#2546441)
    This only applys to people who are granted a special administrative measure which applys to less than a tenth of a percent of people. And only to people who the AG says "reasonable suspicion exists to believe that a particular inmate may use communication with attorneys or their agents to further or facilitate acts of terrorism".

    I don't agree that they should be doing this in the first place, but it's not for everyone. I guess this is just more /. sensationalism at work.
    • Nope, its another case of the first footsteps down the slippery slope. Once you allow them to do things like this, its a lot easier for them to "Expand" such violations....

      You have to draw the line at ANY violation, lest it move further to where you DON'T like...

      • You're right. In fact, I'm so afraid that the government might start imprisoning anyone it feels like, that I think we should free everyone in prison right now. We don't want to establish any sort of precedent for incarceration as a legitimate form of punishment.

        Slippery slope arguments are, by their nature, stupid. They prove nothing other than a trend based on a single data point. The slope of the line derived from that data point is based on the delusions of the person doing the deriving.

        -jon

        • by Danse ( 1026 )

          Bullshit. If we let the AG spy on anyone he considers a terrorist suspect, then what's to stop him from later using the same tactic against suspected drug dealers (especially since he's already been trying to tie the drug war to the war on terrorism) and from there on down the chain? Not to mention the fact that there is no way in hell that you can give these suspects a fair trial once you've taken away their attorney-client privelege. It just can't work in an adversarial justice system such as ours. It tips the balance in favor of the prosecution. You want to tell all the people that the FBI has been scooping up lately that they are all presumed guilty and they will not be allowed to have fair trials? Welcome to the New America. We're well on our way to implementing the same practices we've condemned in other countries for decades.

          • I don't know if you are aware, but Lincoln suspended Habeus Corpus during the Civil War, something far more serious than A-C privilige. It came back.

            Times of war demand different standards. Get over it.

            -jon

    • Re:Read the article (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Silver A ( 13776 )
      This only applys to people who are granted a special administrative measure which applys to less than a tenth of a percent of people. And only to people who the AG says "reasonable suspicion exists to believe that a particular inmate may use communication with attorneys or their agents to further or facilitate acts of terrorism".

      Well, let's be smart about this, then - don't allow the prosecution access to the tapes, only the military and intelligence agencies. We've got a reasonable suspicion that Prisoner X is a terrorist, and is using his lawyer to communicate with other terrorists? Let the CIA or the FBI track down others with those conversations, but don't let the prosecutor have those tapes. That way, Prisoner X still has a right to a fair trial, and we still get to track down terrorists.



  • So now they abuse their power by changing the laws when its convient.

    t
  • by egomaniac ( 105476 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:15PM (#2546444) Homepage
    "The Justice Department said less than one-tenth of 1 percent of federal inmates are subject to the provision that allows such monitoring. It pointed out most inmates subject to special administrative measure have no relation to the terrorism investigation, spawned by the deadly September 11 hijackings and attacks."

    I'm not saying I agree with this, but at least keep in mind that this is limited in scope. Yeah, yeah, slippery slope and all that, but while you're fighting against stuff it's important to realize what you're fighting against.

    This is not "let's completely throw away client-attorney privilege", it's "let's recognize that sometimes national security takes precedence". You still may disagree with this, but at least fight the correct target.
    • Yeah. This week. Next week we will expand it to . . . Drug dealers, because we know that they are all scumbags. Two weeks from now, muslims in general, then "brown skinned people". Perhaps not as drastically, but if something like this goes unchallenged . . .
      And national security shouldn't be handled by the monkeys that do it now.
  • Still Wobbly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Coniine ( 524342 )
    Everyone is still a bit wobbly after the 911 attacks. In this wobbly state the majority of people have bought the fallacious idea that decreased freedom leads to increased security. Even though we have not had any significant attacks since the anthrax mailings those who have made this massive power-grab ( Ashcroft et al ) via the USA PATRIOT act and this recent little addendum have done their best to keep everyone in a wobbly state so that few people would dare to criticize their coup-in-the-works. There will come a time when their crying wolf no longer inspires the fear it has recently and the climate for questioning their overreaching and reversing it will improve. My worry is that a Republican stacked Supreme court could put us in a horrible position as regards rocovering ou lost civil rights. Therein lies the real danger.
  • More sensationalism! (Score:2, Informative)

    by trenton ( 53581 )
    Seriously, guys, do you ever read past the headline? They story clearly states that detainees must be informed of the monitoring. And, the monitoring only extends to telephone and mail; private meetings are undoubtably private.

    I don't think this in any way violates right to counsel.

    • And, the monitoring only extends to telephone and mail; private meetings are undoubtably private.

      What's the difference? And also, the fact that they're willing to bend the rules this much sort of removes the "undoubtedly" from your statement.
  • by Hostile17 ( 415334 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:19PM (#2546467) Journal
    99 civil rights on the wall, 99 civil rights, take on down, throw it away, 98 civil rights on the wall ....
    • > 99 civil rights on the wall, 99 civil rights, take on down, throw it away, 98 civil rights on the wall ....

      Close, but no cigar.

      "5 amendments scratched offa the paper, five amendments scratched off..."

      Look in the bright side - they have to stop before amendment 16!

  • by IamLarryboy ( 176442 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:20PM (#2546476)
    When will things have gone far enough to justify a revolution? We are taliking about basic rights and freedoms here! These are rights and freedoms that PEOPLE DIED FOR!!!!Earlier today there was an anouncement on slashdot that now even math can be patented. Governmnet and corperations can now TELL US WHAT WE CAN DO WITH OUR OWN THOUGHTS AND IDEAS!!!Now we will be loosing our right to laywer clien confidentiality! This is argualby one of the most basic rights that we have! so when will the relolution come? how much longer can this go on? I say that a revolution would be moraly acceptable now. I do not think that that would be the most likely way to achieve the goal of getting our freedoms back. Nor do I think it would be the best way. I do however think that RIGHT NOW a revolution would be acceptable. That is scarry! If and when the revolution comes I suggest that the DOJ is the first against the wall. Then the Republicans. Then The Democrats. Then Microsoft! Wohoo! Just what I think.
  • Clarifications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Debillitatus ( 532722 ) <devillel2@NOSpaM.hotmail.com> on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:20PM (#2546483) Journal
    There are a few things in the article which are not mentioned, or perhaps even misrepresented, in the summary. When I first read the summary, I was both surprised and worried, because it sounds pretty rough.

    But as the CNN article states, this monitoring has many restrictions. First, the detainee must be informed of it, so there is no potential for the type of abuse which would make all detainees afraid to speak to their attorney; everyone would know when they were subject to such monitoring. Second, and even more importantly, this monitoring cannot be used as evidence against the detainee. The summary doesn't mention this, and this is crucial. The monitoring can only be used for informational purposes, to stop other crimes. And it is common that detainees communicate with the outside world with their lawyers, and I'm sure we can all believe there are situations where the detainee is communicating details of future crimes to their associates.

    I guess one thing is true is that this probably has less to do with terrorism than the administration would have us believe. It seems as though this is something which would be more effective against organized crime than terrorism.

    But once you actually read the article, this isn't such a big deal, and, in the grand scheme of things, might even be a good idea.

    • > Second, and even more importantly, this monitoring cannot be used as evidence against the detainee.

      Yes, this is crucial.

      At the risk of getting my door knocked down by a bunch of Feebs in the middle of the night, I only see a conflict of interest if FBI ("cops") perform this monitoring, but not CIA or NSA ("spooks").

      It's the cops' job to bust people who have commited crimes and testify against them in court. Cops shouldn't listen to attorney-defendant discussions, because they're likely to be testifying in court against the defendant.

      It's the spooks' job to find badasses before crimes are committed and warn the cops ahead of time. Spooks ought to be able to listen to attorney-defendant discussions, because they sure as fsck won't be testifying in court.

      There's a world of difference between Offiser Bob saying "Your Honor, we picked him up for speeding, searched him, and found drugs, which he denies knowing about, but the defendant admitted he was drug trafficking in his lawyer's office and that he hoped to get away with only a speeding ticket" and Spooky Sam phoning Officer Bob to say "Bob, you might just want to point your radar gun down Highway 12 at 3:00 in the morning and pick up whoever's speeding by exactly 4 miles per hour, because one of our agents has just tweaked someone's speedometer by 5 mph."

    • Re:Clarifications (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jwilloug ( 6402 )
      Cannot be used as evidence?

      Those wiretaps J. Edgar Hoover had done on "suspected communists" weren't admissable in court either. I'm sure he never had any intention of using them that way...
  • They are prtobably trying out many things, just to see what they can get away with.

    If everyone makes a big stink, then they back down. If no one opposes them, then they win.

    I cannot imagine it standing up well in court, unless it is one of those secret FISA courts.

    Now is the time to keep vigilent and make a stink.

  • by Nitroshock ( 525868 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:22PM (#2546500)
    That move...is necessary to help "prevent further terrorist acts,"

    The article goes on to state

    The Justice Department said less than one-tenth of 1 percent of federal inmates are subject to the provision that allows such monitoring. It pointed out most inmates subject to special administrative measure have no relation to the terrorism investigation, spawned by the deadly September 11 hijackings and attacks.

    That prevents further terrorist acts, how? By monitoring non-terrorists? I'm gonna go prevent terrorism by washing my car.
  • by daviskw ( 32827 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:23PM (#2546508)
    Did you read the article or are you just posting inflamatory material for kicks. First, the Government never said Council was being denied. Second, they put up huge road blocks to insure that Government lawyers don't have access to privledged information. Third, they tell the prisoners that this particular action is being taken. All of this is safeguarded by a requirement that they have to show to a judge that there is a good chance the prisoner knows something about future terrorist attacks.

    Not to mention that if a future terrorist attack did happen and they could have prevented it by listening in on the interviews, loss to life could be catastrophic.

    Remember the life you save, could be your own.

  • Such as already-tapped cell phone conversations and the like. And it is limited to situations where a case was not yet existing, where the client was asking if it would be legal if they did something - but still, the chilling effect is quite evident.

    Although slippery slope argunements are usually incomplete logic - this would mean that first clients would have to learn to stop asking for councel from their own attourneys, which should in itself damage the client-attourney relationship, damaging the very basis of the U.S. legal system. Just because a confession doesn't take place on sunday in a confessional, but instead takes place in a letter to a priest, does not mean that the priest has to hand over the letter if asked. Also similar though would be a client asking for advice from a psychologist over the phone - to take such conversations to court is chilling in many ways. What form of servailance is fair, what is not? Would it be legal to install transmitters into all defence attourneys?

    Ryan Fenton
  • This won't fly. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VanL ( 7521 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:26PM (#2546528)
    First, note the link on the attached story: this is a *proposed* rule, not an accepted one.

    Second, the attorney-client privilege is one of the most strongly-defended privacy rights. While it is true that attorney-client privilege does not protect prospective crimes, in order to break the privilege, the government must be able to convince a judge that there is a very strong likelihood of the commision of a crime in the near future. Being in jail, even for a heinous crime, is not grounds for a strong suspicion.

    Bottom line: They may try this, but the first judge who sees it will throw it out.
    • Re:This won't fly. (Score:3, Informative)

      by chipuni ( 156625 )
      Uhmmm... no.

      According to The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64 663-2001Nov8.html, for the goat-wary),

      The Justice Department has decided to listen in on the conversations of lawyers with clients in federal custody, including people who have been detained but not charged with any crime, whenever that is deemed necessary to prevent violence or terrorism.

      Attorney General John D. Ashcroft approved the eavesdropping rule on an emergency basis last week, without the usual waiting period for public comment. It went into effect immediately, permitting the government to monitor conversations and intercept mail between people in custody and their attorneys for up to a year at a time.

  • I know that the typical slashdot-reader is a discipline-case with serious distrust of authority, but please read the article before you pass judgement. The justice department's move is not at all controversial, unless you're one of those anti-American types who thought we got was coming to us 9/11.


    To put your mind at ease if you're too lazy to click the link in the article, I'll reproduce the most relevant part here:

    The statement stressed there are restrictions on the monitoring of such communications, which includes phone calls and mail. Among them are that the inmates being held must be told of the monitoring, that the monitoring team cannot have a connection to any "ongoing prosecution" and that the monitoring must be limited to inmates subject to a "special administrative measure."

    "In order to be subject to a special administrative measure the attorney general has to have a certification from the head of a law enforcement or intelligence agency that reasonable suspicion exists to believe that a particular inmate may use communication with attorneys or their agents to further or facilitate acts of terrorism," the statement said. [Emphasis added.]

    If you don't get it, read that again. Now, what is there to whine about? I'm all for Civil Liberties, but this case has absolutely nothing to do with Civil Liberties. Terrorists, especially foreign terrorists, have no Civil Liberties to be concerned with, as far as I and 99.9% of Americans are concerned.
    • The justice department's move is not at all controversial, unless you're one of those anti-American types who thought we got was coming to us 9/11.

      Oh I see, if you don't tow the party line, you must be one of them. Got it. Heard it before. It isn't any more convincing coming from you than it was coming from anyone else.
  • Calm down. Nothing to see here.

    Anything "they" learn would never make it into court. If the public is asking for protection then they should probably be interested in what a terrorism suspect would communicate to the outside world, at this time. Even if done so through his/her lawyer.

    Lets roll! Steamroll!

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:32PM (#2546567)
    seems you can get anything passed thru today, if you say its in the name of anti-terrorism.

    how different is this from the terrorists view; in that they also feel that the end justifies ANY means?

    does the end really justify ANY means? isn't how you get there just as important as the end result, itself?

  • What's next? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Patient-doctor confidentiality? How about your minister, preacher or what-have-you? What's next?

    Must we whisper to each other in shadowed alleyways?

  • by Sleepy ( 4551 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:42PM (#2546635) Homepage
    ... just ask any Native American how good the word of our government is.

    Expect COMPLETE PARITY between the laws governing "terrorism" and the war on "drugs".

    The irony is, the people pushing for these laws are the same people who screamed bloody murder about Ruby Ridge, or Waco Texas. Now it's their turn.

    And since ANONYMOUS TIPS can be used to gain a search warrent, I sincerely doubt the claim "none of this is admissible". Just launder you ill-gained evidence through an anonymous tip, get a warrant, and use that evidence instead. There are enough loopholes to fit a fleet of 18-wheelers through.
  • Naivety (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Friday November 09, 2001 @06:47PM (#2546662) Homepage
    <paranoia>
    What makes you think the police, Federal or otherwise, don't already try and listen in on lawyer-client communications? I'm sure they get all sorts of hints and tidbits. They can't use the recordings in court, of course; all they have to do is make up a new train of investigation that (re)leads them to the evidence.

    The only difference now is that they no longer have to go to the trouble.
    </paranoia>
  • If a suspected terrorist's attorney is suspected of assisting the detainee in the plotting of more terrorist acts, why are we not detaining the attorney too? Give him a cell and a wall full of law books, or whatever else he needs to research his case, and let them consult in private. There is no need to listen in.
  • America is headed for rainbow fascism. We all drive SUV's and have little american flags. You can be a part of it as long as you blindly follow our countrys idiot leaders.
    You don't follow because you agree with what the laws say, but you agree because it was said by the leaders.

    To quote the drill instructor from Full Metal Jacket: "I am here to weed out all non-hackers" Ie: Get with the program and get in line.

    Dont't be fooled, this is abuse. Its time to revolt against oppression. All the things that are in the Declaration Of Independence [nara.gov] are true today, except we are more taxed today (on a % basis) then anyone was under the king! Our founding fathers said that we should violently revolt, so its certianly time TO SPEAK UP if nothing else.

  • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Friday November 09, 2001 @07:38PM (#2546868) Journal
    There is a difference between gathering evidence for prosecution and gathering intelligence for self defence.

    Such intelligence could not be admissible in court, but it just might stop the next attack.

    There is no forfeiture of rights here.

  • From the front page of today's (11/9) New York Times:

    "... Bush .. in the last days of his presidential campaign ... complained that ... Gore, 'trusts government, which stands in stark contrast to our view.'"

    Is this better than "Read my lips, no new taxes," or what?

We were so poor we couldn't afford a watchdog. If we heard a noise at night, we'd bark ourselves. -- Crazy Jimmy

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