Judging from the arguments DOJ made in court today, it would seem that the long-running dispute between officials at Guantanamo Bay and detainees' lawyers would be coming to a close.
"We would expect there would be few disputes in the future," DOJ lawyer Douglas Letter said.
All the three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit would have to do is adopt the government's new rules for lawyer conduct at the island naval base.
But, lawyers for the petitioners said, these rules would make their already trying jobs near impossible. "This is our only chance to go back to the well," said Jeffrey Lang, an attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton.
The government's proposed rules would mean the search of legal mail, limits on attorneys' initial meeting with detainees and prohibitions on what these lawyers could say to their clients (such as discussion of other remedies like asylum).
The government's proposal would also restrict the D.C. Circuit's ability to see the entire record of evidence the government collected against each detainee. Instead, the government only wants the Circuit to review the material presented to the military panels, which is not always the entirety of evidence the government has.
The proposal stems from congressional legislation passed last year that requires all detainee file petitions challenging their imprisonment in the D.C. Circuit, instead of the district court.
But for the judges on the panel, some of these proposals seemed to go way too far. Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg noted they were a "wholesale and complete departure from an adversarial system."
"I don't see how there can be any meaningful review of the determinations if we don't known what what we don't know you know," Ginsburg said.
To Letter, however, the goal of the petitioners "is not consistent with the role Congress has created for the court."