Mar 13, 2009 9 Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Obama names Oakland attorney to head DOJ Civil Division
President Obama on Thursday nominated Oakland attorney Tony West, a former federal prosecutor and prolific Obama campaign fundraiser, to head the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil division.
West, 43, is a litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, representing people and companies in civil and criminal matters since 2001; perhaps his highest-profile case there has been helping to defend “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh.
West’s office said he was traveling and unavailable for comment Thursday.
“The American people deserve to have faith that their Justice Department will keep them safe and uphold our most basic rights,” Obama said of West’s and other Justice appointments in a statement Thursday. “This group has the depth of experience and integrity necessary to accomplish these goals.”
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, West will be the assistant attorney general in charge of a division representing the United States, its departments and agencies, members of Congress, Cabinet officers and other federal employees in a wide range of litigation. The civil division’s attorneys handle thousands of cases per year involving billions of dollars in claims and recoveries, dealing with significant policy issues often of constitutional dimensions …
So, Skreed Blog drops in on a transcript pf a WaPo live chat and here’s waht he found:
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Today I was looking at a WaPo transcript of a live chat with his attorney, C. Anthony West. (Heâ€™s identified as defense attorney and co-counsel.) As you might expect, he defends his client. Thatâ€™s his job, even after the trial is over; canâ€™t expect him to say â€œthe boy got off easy, considering what an ass he was. Personally, I would have put him in the jug until the seventh seal broke, then made him do the rest of his time in Hell.â€ Thatâ€™s not what attorneys do. You can judge a lawyer by the cases he takes, of course, and Mr. West has taken on some noble cases, fighting against child pornography. Just makes you wonder why he took this one. Aside from the fact that his firm had been retained and the publicity was witchin,â€™ that is. But thatâ€™s speculation. It could have been he saw this as an opportunity to make sure our Shining Ideals were upheld even in our Darkest Hours.
Iâ€™ll say this: if I ever defect to the other side and find myself captured with a bunch of guys who want to kill as many Americans and unbelievers as possible, this is the man I want staying my case in an online chat.
Hereâ€™s how the attorney viewed the plea bargain:
â€œThe governmentâ€™s willingness to dismiss all of the terrorism chargesâ€“including the most serious, conspiracy to kill Americansâ€“was for us an acknowledgement of what we have been saying all along: Whatever John is, he is not a terrorist, and he did not go to Afghanistan to kill Americans.â€
Just Afghans. To which someone from Harrisburg, PA asked:
Many believe there was a line crossed with John Lindh continued fighting after the United States entered the war. What is your clientâ€™s position to having been in a position of being on an opposing army?
Tony West: I understand that perception. John went to Afghanistan long before September 11 ever occurred, and he went for the specific purpose of opposing the Northern Alliance. One of the first things he told Army interrogators when they questioned him on December 3 of last year was that after 9/11 happened, he wanted to leave the front lines but couldnâ€™t for fear of his life. John never wanted to be in a position where he was opposing the United States (and never thought he would be), and in fact he never opposed any American military. He does understand, however, how people can perceive that he was on the â€œother side.â€
Damned broad-minded of him. This I did not know: the details behind the plea bargain.
â€œFor example, one of the items the government was insisting on was a provision that might have the effect of preventing John from foreign travel for the rest of his life. One of the most remarkable things about John has been his ability to remain committed to his faith throughout this whole things (which I believe has contributed to his lack of bitterness toward anybody). He explained that he couldnâ€™t knowingly sign any agreement that would prevent him from making his Hajj, or trip to Mecca, which the Quâ€™uran requires every Muslim to do at least once in his or her life. To do so, said John, would be against Islam. So, we explained that to the prosecutors, who agreed to drop the requirement.â€
Good lawyer. He notes that Lindh wonâ€™t be able to sell a book and profit from it, but some day his tale will be told. As his lawyer said: â€œitâ€™s a story that needs to be told and his is a unique perspective.â€
I mention this for one reason: Tony West is the Presidentâ€™s nominee to head the Justice Departmentâ€™s Civil Division. If you want to know how far we are past 9/11, thereâ€™s your answer: John Walker Lindhâ€™s defense attorney is going to work for Justice. Iâ€™m not saying he wouldnâ€™t do a perfectly competent job.
It just seems like one of those things that might have stuck out, once upon a time.
Me: And I am quite confident had George W. Bush nominated a lawyer who had defended a KKK or neo-Nazi member …
I dunno, guys … anyone else feel as if they need a long shower with lots of soap?