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February 19, 2010

Eric Holder: Okay, So Maybe Nine Justice Department Political Appointees Previously Worked for Terrorist Clients... And Your Point Is...?

Oh this is just wonderful, isn't it?

Oh -- by the way, that is just the number of lawyers who have worked directly as terrorist advocates, or who have submitted friend-of-the-court briefs on their behalf. (Amicus curae briefs allow interested third parties to submit their own briefs for consideration on points of law particularly influenced by public-policy questions.)

Other Justice Department political employees worked for law firms which acted as terrorist mouth-pieces, though they didn't (supposedly) do any direct work for the terrorists.

Attorney General Eric Holder says nine Obama appointees in the Justice Department have represented or advocated for terrorist detainees before joining the Justice Department. But he does not reveal any names beyond the two officials whose work has already been publicly reported. And all the lawyers, according to Holder, are eligible to work on general detainee matters, even if there are specific parts of some cases they cannot be involved in.

Holder's admission comes in the form of an answer to a question posed last November by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley. Noting that one Obama appointee, Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, formerly represented Osama bin Laden's driver, and another appointee, Jennifer Daskal, previously advocated for detainees at Human Rights Watch, Grassley asked Holder to give the Senate Judiciary Committee "the names of political appointees in your department who represent detainees or who work for organizations advocating on their behalf…the cases or projects that these appointees work with respect to detainee prior to joining the Justice Department…and the cases or projects relating to detainees that have worked on since joining the Justice Department."

In his response, Holder has given Grassley almost nothing. He says nine Obama political appointees at the Justice Department have advocated on behalf of detainees, but did not identify any of the nine other than the two, Katyal and Daskal, whose names Grassley already knew. "To the best of our knowledge," Holder writes,

during their employment prior to joining the government, only five of the lawyers who serve as political appointees in those components represented detainees, and four others either contributed to amicus briefs in detainee-related cases or were otherwise involved in advocacy on behalf of detainees.

Holder says other Obama appointees, like Holder himself, came from law firms which represented detainees but did no work on behalf of the terrorist prisoners. But other than Katyal and Daskal, Holder does not reveal any names of any Obama appointees, nor does he mention the cases they worked on.

Oh no problem, someone might say, they surely recuse themselves from working on terrorist cases.

Wrong. They apply a fairly narrow notion of recusal and only avoid working on cases specifically about their own clients or Gitmo. But the people who worked to release Gitmo prisoners -- as their lawyers -- work on cases involving, for example, detention at Bagram airfield in Afghanistan. And almost all the same arguments and issues in such a case apply directly to Gitmo cases -- so yes, they have a continuing conflict of interest as they work to push policies that will get their clients sprung out of Gitmo.

Unbelievable.

Unbelievable. Only liberal Democrats would ever try to do this. Only they would be so arrogant, and only they would think (correctly!) the media will cover up for them.

[Update - PA]

Related - Jay Bybee and John Yoo are off the hook for the "torture memos". DOJ finds no "misconduct" in their actions. Perhaps this unexpected (for real) finding is because the Obama administration's DOJ had its own closet full of skeletons? Yoo apparently had his own counterattack planned and was going to accuse the misconduct review of misconduct itself...something I'm guessing he could have made a decent argument for.


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posted by Ace at 04:10 PM

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