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Dellinger: ‘Al Qaeda Seven’ Attacks Are ‘Shameful’

Posted By Christopher M. Matthews On March 5, 2010 @ 12:33 pm In News | Comments Disabled

In an Op-ed [1]in Friday’s Washington Post, Former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger excoriated a video put out this week by Liz Cheney’s conservative non-profit Keep America Safe [2] that questioned the loyalty of Justice Department lawyers who represented alleged terrorist detainees while working in private practice.

“That those in question would have their patriotism, loyalty and values attacked by reputable public figures such as Elizabeth Cheney and journalists such as [William] Kristol is as depressing a public episode as I have witnessed in many years,” Dellinger wrote. “What has become of our civic life in America? The only word that can do justice to the personal attacks on these fine lawyers — and on the integrity of our legal system — is shameful. Shameful.”

The group has been needling Holder on the issue for months after the DOJ disclosed that nine employees previously represented detainees or worked for organizations that advocate changes to terrorism policies. The names of two of the nine were already known and Fox News identified [3] the remaining seven on Wednesday. The video referred to the seven lawyers as the “al Qaeda Seven.”

Dellinger, who also headed the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel and is now a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, defended the record of Karl Thompson, one of the nine lawyers who represented detainees. Thompson, now himself an OLC lawyer, aided Defense Department lawyer Rebecca Snyder and Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler in their defense of alleged terrorist Omar Kadhr.

Below is excerpt of Dellinger’s piece, click here [1] to read the rest.

It never occurred to me on the day that Defense Department lawyer Rebecca Snyder and Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler of the Navy appeared in my law firm’s offices to ask for our assistance in carrying out their duties as military defense lawyers that the young lawyer who worked with me on that matter would be publicly attacked for having done so. And yet this week that lawyer and eight other Justice Department attorneys have been attacked [4] in a video released by a group called Keep America Safe (whose board members include William Kristol and Elizabeth Cheney) for having provided legal assistance to detainees before joining the department. The video [5] questions their loyalty to the United States, asking: “DOJ: Department of Jihad?” and “Who are these government officials? . . . Whose values do they share?”

Here, in brief, is the story of one of those lawyers.

In June 2007, I was at a federal judicial conference when I received an urgent message to call the Defense Department. The caller was Lt. Cmdr. Kuebler, a uniformed Navy officer who had been detailed to the Office of Military Commissions. As part of his military duties, Kuebler had been assigned to represent Omar Khadr [6], a Guantanamo detainee who was to be tried before a military commission. Kuebler told me that the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed that day to review the case of another detainee who had been a part of the same lower court proceeding as Khadr. Because Kuebler’s client had not sought review at the Supreme Court, this situation raised some complex questions of court practice with which Kuebler was unfamiliar. Kuebler’s military superior suggested he call me and ask whether I could assist him in analyzing the applicable Supreme Court rule.

It was a Friday night. I called Karl Thompson, a lawyer at my firm who had previously been a Supreme Court law clerk, and asked whether he could look into the question over the weekend. I told Thompson that the military lawyers assigned to these cases had a very burdensome workload and that it seemed that Kuebler could really use our help. Even though Thompson was extremely busy with other work at the firm, he said he would somehow find time for this as well.

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