Byron York writes:
A number of lawyers who work on terrorist issues at the Justice Department represented terrorist detainees before joining the Obama administration. At a hearing three months ago, Sen. Charles Grassley raised the possibility of a conflict with Attorney General Eric Holder.
Grassley, a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, posed three simple questions: Who are they, who did they represent, and what are their duties at the Justice Department today?
At the time, Grassley knew from press reports that two high-ranking department officials now working on detainee issues had previously worked for detainees: Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal once represented Osama bin Laden's driver, and Jennifer Daskal, an official in the National Security Division, worked on behalf of detainees at the liberal organization Human Rights Watch.
"This prior representation, I think, creates a conflict of interest problem for these individuals," Grassley said, asking Holder to supply the names of all political appointees who had represented or advocated for detainees, the cases they worked on, and their terror-related responsibilities in the Justice Department.
Holder at first blew Grassley off, but later said he would look into it. Later, all GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee joined in Grassley's request. But November passed with no answer from Holder. Then December went by, with no answer. Then January.
Finally, last week, Grassley and his colleagues got a response -- they wouldn't really call it an answer -- from the attorney general. Holder told Grassley that at least nine department officials formerly represented detainees. (It is "at least" because Holder conceded that he did not make a complete survey of DOJ's political appointees.) Holder confirmed that Katyal and Daskal worked on detainee issues -- something Grassley already knew -- but did not reveal the names of the other department officials involved. He did say that they are allowed to work on detainee issues.
Holder also assured Grassley that "all department appointees understand that their client is the United States."
Holder did not give a reason for withholding information.
Why doesn't the most transparent administration in history tell us who these lawyers are and who they worked for? I'm sure that the lawyers' defense is that they were merely trying to uphold some noble legal principle that everyone has a right to representation. But the behavior of some lawyers for al Qaeda terrorists has crossed the line into blatant lies and propaganda. If Holder thinks there's nothing objectionable about the work done by the 9 or more lawyers in question, he should release their names.