The White House wants to play Transparency Olympics with the Tea Party movement. President Obama's Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin dared Tea Party activists and conservatives last week to "push the administration to make its policies more open" and make it a "political competition … to see who can be more radical in their openness," The Hill reported. So, let's start by knocking down Attorney General Eric Holder's national security stonewall at the Department of Justice, shall we? Let the sun shine in.
For more than a year, I've been writing about the looming national security and conflict-of-interest problems posed by Holder's status as a former partner at the prestigious law firm Covington and Burling. The company currently represents or has provided pro bono representation and sob-story media-relations campaigns in the past to more than a dozen Gitmo detainees from Yemen who are seeking civilian trials on American soil.
The firm wasn't just a bit player. It led the charge, contributing more than 3,000 hours to Gitmo litigation in 2007, according to The American Lawyer. At least one known Covington big shot and fellow former Clintonite, Lanny Breuer, now works for Holder as head of the DOJ's criminal division. Though he himself did not participate in the detainee cases, Holder's celebrity undoubtedly boosted company-wide prestige.
How many of Holder's former colleagues and associates are now on the DOJ payroll? How many like them, who worked at other law firms or for left-wing lobbying groups, now inhabit DOJ offices? How many of them have been allowed to work on government terrorism cases related to their past crusades for al-Qaida-tied clients? How many have had to recuse themselves -- and have those recusals been full and forthcoming? How can the public judge whether these lawyers are representing America's best interests -- or those of the jihadis?
GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa has been trying to get answers. DOJ information suppressors have snubbed him repeatedly. As the Washington Examiner's Byron York reported on Friday, Holder has now acknowledged that "at least" nine Obama appointees in the Justice Department "have represented or advocated for terrorist detainees before joining the Justice Department." But the tight-lipped, taxpayer-funded litigators at the agency won't name names or cough up any relevant details.