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Against counsel for suspects

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US argues against counsel for terror suspects

By Lyle Denniston, Globe Correspondent, 1/11/2003

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, going to unusual lengths to keep lawyers away from suspected terrorists now in custody, has revealed in court its methods of secret interrogation to get information from these detainees. The administration contends that those methods surely will fail if lawyers are on hand.

In a filing late Thursday in a federal court in New York City, the Justice Department disclosed that military teams have been interrogating a detained US citizen, Jose Padilla, for several months in hopes of winning his trust as a source of intelligence about the Al Qaeda network.

Without reporting the details of the questioning, and without discussing anything that Padilla may have said in those sessions, the department said that ''granting him direct access to counsel can be expected to set back his interrogations by months, if not derail the process permanently.''

The filing was made as part of a plea to US District Judge Michael B. Mukasey of New York to reconsider his ruling of last month that Padilla must have access to a lawyer to help him challenge his detention. The judge said that Padilla's right to offer facts in court ''will be destroyed utterly if he is not allowed to consult with counsel.''

But any such direct contact with an attorney, the Justice Department argued, could break ''the sense of dependency and trust that the interrogators are attempting to create.''

The unusual description of intelligence-gathering techniques being used with Padilla and other detainees came in a nine-page statement by the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby.

The New York judge, in his Dec. 4 ruling in Padilla's case, held that citizens held by the government as ''enemy combatants'' have a limited right to challenge their detention, and a narrowly confined right to talk with a lawyer about such a challenge.

Private lawyers who have been speaking on Padilla's behalf, the Justice Department said, want to ask Padilla what questions military interrogators have asked, and what subjects he has talked about.

This story ran on page A2 of the Boston Globe on 1/11/2003.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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