Nine, and counting, attorneys currently in the U.S. Department of Justice, represented terrorist detainees before joining the Obama administration. Does this bother anyone else?
Why is this a problem? Let me count the ways.
First are actual and perceived conflicts of interest, which attorneys are always obligated to avoid. The problem is not that they represented detainees – everyone deserves a defense – but that they are now on the other side. When this happens, attorneys must recuse themselves and avoid handling, or ideally even advising on, the matter. Unfortunately Holder’s incomplete response still didn’t clarify the role of these nine attorneys in Justice Department terror policies and prosecutions.
Second is the appearance of bias or an agenda, that the hens have taken over what is supposed to be the foxes’ den. The Department of Justice is supposed to be prosecuting terrorists, not coddling them. What are we to think if the organized crime unit brings in nine mob lawyers? At least one of these nine was with a human rights advocacy group and has no prosecutorial experience. For an administration that preaches pragmatism and not ideology, it’s at least a question mark, if not a black mark.
Here’s what we do know: In March, the Legal Times named 14 Justice Department lawyers whose firms at least did significant detainee work and who therefore might need recusals in specific cases. They included Mr. Holder himself, Mr. Perrelli, then-Deputy Attorney General David J. Ogden, and a list of mid- to high-ranking underlings that includes lawyers James Garland, John Bies, Aaron Lewis, Stuart Delery, Eric Columbus, Chad Golder, Brian Hauck, Donald Verrilli, Lanny Breuer, Tony West and Neal Katyal. Mr. Grassley added the name of Jennifer Daskal, who was known as a particularly avid promoter of the terrorist detainees.
Mr. Holder, however, could easily have added more information. For instance, Mr. Columbus himself, not just someone from his former law firm, was an attorney of record in portions of the landmark case of Boumediene v. Bush, where a divided Supreme Court ruled that detainees do enjoy access to U.S. courts. Mr. Columbus presumably is one of the seven lawyers unidentified by Mr. Welch’s unhelpful letter. This is important because Mr. Columbus’ job as senior counsel for the deputy attorney general gives him some supervisory authority over both the Criminal and National Security divisions of the Justice Department – the very divisions involved with deciding how to handle the detainees.
Another of the seven unidentified lawyers likely is Jonathan G. Cedarbaum, now a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel. He, too, worked on the Boumediene case.
If there was nothing wrong with these attorneys working in private practice on detainees, then Mr. Holder should release all their names and cases. The alternative – that there really is something to hide – would be an even bigger scandal.
Maybe it is just me but these attorneys seem to be the very last folks we should have in such positions. But, I suppose, given the pasts of so many on Team Obama, this type of thing ought to be expected.
Michelle Malkin has more on the “Transprency Deficit Disorder” afflicting Team Obama
Corruptocrat AG Eric Holder refused to disclose the names of the terror lawyers in the DOJ. But you can find out what Team Obama doesn’t want you to know by heading over to the breaking news at FoxNews.com.
A day after a conservative group released a video condemning the Justice Department for refusing to identify seven lawyers who previously represented or advocated for terror suspects, Fox News has uncovered the identities of the seven lawyers.
The names were confirmed by a Justice Department spokesman, who said “politics has overtaken facts and reality” in a tug-of-war over the lawyers’ identities.
“Department of Justice attorneys work around the clock to keep this country safe, and it is offensive that their patriotism is being questioned,” said Justice Department Spokesman Matt Miller.
The video by the group Keep America Safe, which dubbed the seven lawyers “The Al Qaeda 7,” is the latest salvo in a lengthty political battle.
For several months, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has led an effort to uncover politically-appointed lawyers within the Justice Department who have advocated for Guantanamo Bay detainees or other terror suspects.
“The administration has made many highly questionable decisions when it comes to national security, ” Grassley said in a recent statement. “[Americans] have a right to know who advises the Attorney General and the President on these critical matters.”
An extensive review of court documents and media reports by Fox News suggests many of the seven lawyers in question played only minor or short-lived roles in advocating for detainees. However, it’s unclear what roles, if any, they have played in detainee-related matters since joining the Justice Department.
Fun fact: Assistant Attorney General Tony West, who works in DOJ’s Civil Division, represented “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh for several years.
Well, that is a fun fact. Seriously, these clowns are actually in charge of keeping us safe?