Exclusive: Holder Counselor Amy Jeffress to London
By Ryan J. Reilly | June 23, 2010 2:56 pm

Amy Jeffress (left), a counselor to Attorney General Eric Holder focusing on national security, will take up a new position in London later this summer (file photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

The top national security counselor to Attorney General Eric Holder has been named the Department of Justice Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London, a Justice Department spokesman confirmed to Main Justice.

Amy Jeffress, who joined the Attorney General’s office the day after President Barack Obama was inaugurated, will make the move overseas later this summer, Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. He said a replacement for Jeffress has not yet been named.

“It has been a great privilege to work for the Attorney General on these important issues, but the chance to continue working for the department in this unique position in London is a rare opportunity that I could not pass up,” Jeffress said in a statement.

The departure of Jeffress comes as the Obama administration’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay has slowed to a near halt and national security matters have proven to be among the most difficult issues Holder has confronted during his tenure.

In her capacity as Holder’s counselor, Jeffress set up three inter-agency task forces to review the cases of Guantanamo Bay detainees. The task force finalized a report on the detainees in January, and the report was sent to Congress in late May.

Jeffress told The New Yorker that the challenge of figuring out what to do with the detainees was much greater than expected. “There was no file for each detainee,” she said. The Bush administration clearly “hadn’t planned on prosecuting anyone. Instead, it was ‘Let’s take a shortcut and put them in Guantanamo’.”

Jeffress previously served as chief of the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, where she oversaw terrorism and espionage investigations and prosecutions. Between 1996 and 2009, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office. She served as counsel to the Deputy Attorney General from 1994 to 1996 and as counsel in the Department of Defense Office of General Counsel in 1993 and 1994. She clerked for the U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell from 1992 to 1993. She received her law degree from Yale Law School and her bachelor’s degree from Williams College. She also earned a master’s degree in political science from the Free University of Berlin.

Jeffress comes from a family of lawyers: her father is white-collar lawyer William Jeffress, a partner at Baker Botts LLP who was part of the legal team that represented Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Her brother Jonathan Jeffress is a public defender in the D.C. Public Defender’s office.

This post has been updated.

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