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Al-Qaeda Defense Attorney Appointed to Third Highest Position at DOJ

An attorney who represented a convicted al Qaeda terrorist will soon be the third highest ranking official in the Department of Justice.  Tony West, whose claim to fame is in having defended John Walker Lindh, has been appointed acting associate attorney general of the Department of Justice.

Lindh, a resident of Marin County, CA, at the time, fought against the US-backed Northern Alliance, in Afghanistan, as a member of the Taliban.  Lindh pled guilty to aiding the Taliban.

Prior to serving in the Justice Department, West and his San Francisco law firm defended “some of the most radical Islamic terrorist causes,” according to PJ Media.

PJ Media reports:

“West’s firm also was involved in the case of Mohamed vs. Jeppesen Dataplan, effectively attacking the CIA high value detainee rendition program. They also assisted the defense of Mohammed Al Qahtani, considered the 20th hijacker.”

West is also the federal prosecutor overseeing the Arizona Immigration Lawsuit and is member of a group which represents terror suspects, called Gitmo 9. Additionally, West is known for his appreciable fundraising for Obama.  As Obama’s finance co-chairman he was successful in raising millions of dollars for Obama’s first campaign,

Eric Holder also worked for a law firm which defended terrorists.  When Holder was a senior partner at D.C. law firm, Covington & Burling, the firm represented over a dozen Yemeni terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay.  Though Holder, himself, didn’t represent any of the detainees, he did make this statement regarding the defense of suspected terrorists: “Those who reaffirm our nation’s most essential and enduring values do not deserve to have their own values questioned.”

Yet, one of the most alarming elements of the DOJ’s hiring practices is that members of the GITMO bar, tasked with overseeing GITMO policy, may not have adequately recused themselves:

“Other attorneys in the civil division who came from firms that represented detainees—such as Brian Martinez (West’s chief of staff), Geoffrey Graber (counsel to the assistant attorney general), and Ian Gershengorn (West’s deputy in charge of the Federal Programs Branch, which handles habeas petitions)—recused themselves from individual cases where their former firms represented detainees. Gershengorn, however, continued to play a role in setting policy on issues relating to his prior cases. In an email dated July 14, 2009, he wrote, “I have realized that, while I can discuss policy issues arising from substantial support etc., I cannot work directly on the brief because it is one of the Boumediene cases, and Jenner had an amicus brief in that case.” (This begs the question of who, if anyone, was supervising the habeas petitions and the matters from which the political appointees were recused.)”

We have a situation in which Department of Justice attorneys, with a background of defending terrorists, are in the position of drafting policy regarding terrorists.  But, the problem runs deeper than that.   For more in-depth information on the DOJ’s hiring practices, please read the following report:

‘Every Single One’: PJ Media’s Investigation of Justice Department Hiring Practices

Candice Lanier

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