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Opinions On Gitmo Trials May Remain Confidential

WASHINGTON (CN) - In a victory for the Bush administration, the D.C. Circuit has ruled that the Department of Defense is not required to disclose private lawyers' recommendations on how to conduct military trials for terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.

By a 2-1 vote, the panel concluded that these records are protected under the Freedom of Information Act's exemption for intra-agency memos and letters.

The ruling turned down a request by the National Institute of Military Justice for 19 records containing the opinions of non-governmental lawyers weighing in on regulations establishing terrorist trial commissions.

The documents may be considered intra-agency material despite being submitted by non-agency employees, the court ruled, because the attorneys had a consulting relationship with the DoD, and none of the opinions advanced the attorneys' own interests. See ruling.

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