In a letter Friday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee accused Attorney General Eric Holder of being “non-responsive and intentionally evasive” about questions they had raised concerning current Justice Department lawyers who previously represented Guantanamo detainees.
The letter, first reported by ABC News, was signed by all seven Republican members of the committee. In it, they again asked Holder to provide a list of all political appointees within the DOJ who represented detainees before joining the department or those who worked for organizations that advocate changes to terrorism policies. The senators also asked whether any of the lawyers who had previously represented or advocated for detainees had been asked or voluntarily agreed to recuse themselves from working on detainee issues for the DOJ.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, first questioned Holder about potential conflicts of interest for lawyers who previously worked with detainees during a November oversight hearing. In response to Grassley’s questioning, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich replied in a Feb. 18 letter that 10 politically-appointed DOJ lawyers fit his description. Six had represented detainees and four previously advocated on detainee issues, although none as registered lobbyists, he said. Weich noted in particular that Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal previously represented a Guantanamo Bay detainee and that Jennifer Daskal, an attorney in the National Security Division, previously worked for Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization that advocates against torture.
In the letter Friday, the senators chastised the department for not providing a full list of names.
“The February 18 response does not provide complete answers and raises a host of new questions,” the letter reads. “Simply put, this letter is at best nonresponsive and at worst, intentionally evasive.
The letter added that the lack of a complete response leaves them with “serious concerns about who is providing advice on detainee matters.”
The senators requested that Holder reply to the questions before March 12.
UPDATED 3/9/10: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Holder is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 12. The Republican senators asked Holder reply to their questions by March 12. The committee plans to hold an oversight hearing with Holder sometime in March, but a date has not yet been set.