For more than year, I’ve been writing about AG Eric Holder’s conflicts of interest as former partner at Gitmo detainee law firm Covington and Burling. GOP Sen. Charles Grassley has pressed DOJ for more transparency on Holder’s recusal policies regarding DOJ staff involved in terror-related work.
Holder has been doing his usual stonewalling.
On Friday afternoon, Byron York at the Examiner reported that Holder has acknowledged that “nine Obama appointees in the Justice Department have represented or advocated for terrorist detainees before joining the Justice Department.”
But he’s still covering:
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.
As I noted in Culture of Corruption, the White House built loopholes into their vaunted ethics law big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through:
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…
The GOP needs to go to the mat on this issue — and the public can help. Bombard the DOJ:
Show us the money. Cough up the information. Stop the cover-up. Name the names. The public has a right to know.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line – 202-353-1555
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