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Statement of Dennis W. Archer, President,
American Bar Association

Re: Department of Defense Decision to Allow Yaser Esam Hamdi
to Meet with Defense Counsel

December 3, 2003 - The American Bar Association is encouraged by the Department of Defense decision to allow Yaser Esam Hamdi finally to have access to his lawyer. But the Department's statement that allowing that access is "a matter of discretion" and "should not be treated as a precedent" is disappointing. It falls far short of the strong position of the ABA that any United States citizen or resident who is detained and declared to be an "enemy combatant" should have access to counsel and to meaningful judicial review of their status. We hope that the Department's decision in Hamdi's case is the first step in correcting a policy that could tear at the Bill of Rights, the very fabric of our great democracy, and erode our cherished constitutional safeguards.