The Spectacle Blog

Holder’s Gitmo Nine

By on 2.23.10 | 5:41PM

In a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, Attorney General Eric Holder discloses that nine lawyers who were appointed to handle detainee issues for the Obama Justice Department had previously worked on behalf of Guantanamo detainees.

As Byron York notes:

Private lawyers can choose to take or not take cases. Sometimes they make their decisions based on money, sometimes on principle, sometimes because they are sympathetic to the accused. The lawyers who worked with the terrorist detainees chose to represent people who are making war on the United States. That's certainly their right, but it's entirely reasonable to ask whether they should now be working on detainee issues at the Justice Department.

The department's defenders might say the situation is no different from a lawyer who worked for a corporation joining the department to work on matters affecting big business. But critics say the terrorist detainees are in a special category of client because they are potential threats to the nation's security.

The second issue is whether lawmakers are entitled to know who is handling detainee issues in the Justice Department. If there are serious questions about the independence of those who make policy, Republicans on the Senate committee, which has oversight responsibility for the Justice Department, feel strongly that they should know about it. (Majority Democrats, who control the committee, have not been as curious.)


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