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Obama’s December Gitmo surprise — and the Covington & Burling connection revisited

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 21, 2009 10:57 AM

Don’t you love our open, transparent, most ethical ever White House?

Team Obama chose the weekend before Christmas, with Americans wrapped up in the holidays and the Senate occupied with its dead-of-night Demcare deal, to release 12 Gitmo detainees back to their home countries:

The Justice Department identified those sent home as:

_Afghans Abdul Hafiz, Sharifullah, Mohamed Rahim and Mohammed Hashim.

_Somali detainees Mohammed Soliman Barre and Ismael Arale.

_Yemenis Jamal Muhammad Alawi Mari, Farouq Ali Ahmed, Ayman Saeed Abdullah Batarfi, Muhammaed Yasir Ahmed Taher, Fayad Yahya Ahmed al Rami and Riyad Atiq Ali Abdu al Haf.

Mohammed Albasha, Yemen’s embassy spokesman, said his embassy “hails the release and transfer of six of its citizens from Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. Yemen will continue its diplomatic dialogue with the United States Government to repatriate the remaining Yemeni detainees.”

The administration has announced that five Guantanamo detainees will be tried in a New York federal court and more are likely to be tried in this country.

Up to 100 detainees will be sent to a nearly empty prison in Thomson, Ill.

Gird your loin for more bloody Gitmo recidivism.

***

Ed Morrissey notes that the Somalis were sent back to their terror-friendly regime, whose government we don’t even recognize.

As I’ve noted in Culture of Corruption and many times on this blog, corruptocrat AG Eric Holder’s former law firm, Covington & Burling, represents or has represented more than dozen Gitmo detainees from Yemen.

Reminder from CoC:

Putting on the best terrorist defense is a Covington & Burling specialty. Among the firm’s other celebrity terrorist clients: 17 Yemenis held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The law firm employed dozens of radical attorneys such as David Remes and Marc Falkoff to provide the enemy combatants with more than 3,000 hours of pro bono representation. Covington & Burling co-authored one of three petitioners’ briefs filed in the Boumediene v. Bush detainee case, and secured victories for several other Gitmo enemy combatants in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Falkoff went on to publish a book of poetry, Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak, which he dedicated to the suspected terrorists: “For my friends inside the wire, Mahmoad, Majid, Yasein, Saeed, Abdulsalam, Mohammed, Adnan, Jamal, Othman, Adil, Mohamed, Abdulmalik, Areef, Adeq, Farouk, Salman, and Makhtar. Inshallah, we will next meet over coffee in your homes in Yemen.”

How sweet. One of the class of Yemeni Gitmo detainees that Falkoff described as “gentle, thoughtful young men” was released in 2005—only to blow himself up (gently and thoughtfully, of course) in a truck bombing in Mosul, Iraq, in 2008, killing 13 soldiers from the 2nd Iraqi Army division and seriously wounding 42 others.

The Senate shrugged at the glaring conflict of interest Attorney General Holder presents in handling Gitmo legal issues. Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Cucullu, author of Inside Gitmo: The True Story Behind the Myths of Guantanamo Bay, makes the ethical problem plain:

As a senior partner, he undoubtedly had significant input on what kind of charity cases his firm picked up. He surely knew that dozens of lawyers from his firm were among the 500-plus civilian lawyers representing the 244 or so remaining detainees (on top of military-court-appointed defenders). Even now, his Covington colleagues continue to allege rampant torture at Gitmo. They’re fighting hard to have detainees tried through the US court system—essentially given the same rights as US citizens. And their arguments and plans hinge largely on having Holder issue a bad report card.

Recent polls indicate that at least half of Americans disagree with affording the detainees legal rights on US soil. Will they have the same access to Holder’s ears as his former colleagues do?

The White House says that Holder will formally recuse himself from charging decisions and prosecutions affecting any of Covington & Burling’s clients, but he will have unfettered oversight over Obama’s order to close the facility within a year. Moreover, there’s a gaping loophole in the Obama administration ethics rules that will allow Holder to participate in decision-making despite his conflicts of interests if he can show that his participation in a matter outweighs an appearance or actual conflict of interest

From Falkoff’s drippy dedication list, it looks like at least three of the Yemenis released by the White House may have been represented by Covington & Burling at some point.

Defend Our Defenders is on the case.

Related: GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions pushes the administration to halt Gitmo returns to Saudi Arabia.

Related: House GOP leader John Bohner vows Republicans will block Thomson transfer.

Related: GOP Rep. Frank Wolf calls for release of Gitmo recidivism report.
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Reminder: Former Covington & Burling lawyer David Remes is the one who dropped his trousers in a p.r. stunt to drum up sympathy for his Gitmo clients from Yemen last year:

Obama’s December Gitmo surprise leaves America caught with its security pants down.

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Posted in: Eric Holder,Gitmo

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Categories: Barack Obama, Corruption, Democrats, Eric Holder

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