Byron York reports that nine Obama Justice Department appointees represented or advocated for terrorist detainees before joining the Justice Department. The admission comes in answer to a question posed last November by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley.
Holder did not disclose the names of the nine. Two are already known: Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal represented Osama bin Laden’s driver and Jennifer Daskal previously advocated for detainees at Human Rights Watch. According to Holder, all nine are eligible to work on general detainee matters, even if there are specific parts of some cases they cannot be involved in.
No one familiar with the legal community will be surprised by Holder’s disclosure. Among many liberal lawyers, representing terrorist detainees has come to be viewed as a badge of honor. (When a lawyer in the Bush Justice Department demurred, he was widely condemned.) For some liberal lawyers who represent corporations, providing free legal services to terrorist detainees is proof that they became lawyers to help the “oppressed” after all; not just to help corporations squirm out of difficulty.
In my view, it isn’t dishonorable, under most circumstances, for non-military lawyers to assist in representing terrorist detainees before a military tribunal. But the urge to do so is evidence of a mindset that, if transported to the Justice Department, would tend to produce bad policy and legal decisions with respect to dealing with terrorism and terrorists.
Like going after CIA agents whose interrogations of terrorists helped protect the country against attack; trying the 9/11 mastermind in New York City; and reading the Miranda warning to a freshly captured terrorist.
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