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Statement of James R. Silkenat, president, American Bar Association Re: Attorney-client privilege and government surveillance

Statement of James R. Silkenat, president, American Bar Association Re: Attorney-client privilege and government surveillance

By John Glynn

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2014 – The American Bar Association recently met with National Security Agency General Counsel Rajesh De to discuss current government procedures for protecting the attorney-client privileged status of material obtained through government surveillance. We also discussed how those procedures may be further strengthened.

The ABA emphasized that the attorney-client privilege is essential to the fairness of our justice system and the independence of the legal profession. The privilege protects the confidential lawyer-client relationship and allows clients, whether they are businesses seeking regulatory guidance or criminal defendants facing loss of liberty, to candidly communicate with lawyers and receive effective counsel. The assurances received were encouraging, particularly that procedures are in place to minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of information related to U.S. persons, including any potentially privileged information.     

Although we appreciate and support many of the steps that NSA and other agencies have taken in this regard, we believe that more can be done—and should be done—to preserve fundamental attorney-client privilege protections and help restore public confidence in the privacy of privileged communications.  We expect that our discussions with NSA and other government agencies on these issues will continue.

(Media contact: Rob Boisseau, Robert.Boisseau@americanbar.org)

 

Please click here for a biography and photo of James R. Silkenat, president of the American Bar Association.

 

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at www.ambar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.

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