Adams Smears DOJ's Hussain For Defense Of Terror Suspects

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams attacked Department of Justice attorney Varda Hussain for previously defending terror suspects and suggested she was one of the purported "activist lawyers" hired by the Obama DOJ. But Hussain is one of several attorneys hired during the Bush administration who previously represented Guantanamo Bay detainees, and several Bush administration officials have criticized attacks against lawyers who represented terror suspects as "inappropriate" and "wrong."

Adams Linked Bush DOJ Hire Hussain To Holder's Effort To "Reinvigorate" Civil Rights Division

Adams Suggested Hussain Is One Of The "Swarm Of Activist Lawyers" Holder Purportedly Hired. From Adams' April 13 Washington Examiner op-ed:

Attorney General Eric Holder tours the country proclaiming that he has "reinvigorated" the Civil Rights Division, compared to the Bush years. Reporters never ask precisely what he means. The American people might not like answer.

Holder really means adopting outside activist agendas far beyond the American legal mainstream. It also includes hiring a swarm of activist lawyers to advance an outside agenda from inside the federal government.

In December, the Justice Department filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Berkeley School District in Illinois. The school district had refused to allow a new teacher to take three weeks off during final exams so she could go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, an unreasonable demand far beyond what federal law requires.

The lead Justice Department lawyer on the case says a great deal about why this case was filed. The senior career trial attorney who signed the complaint, and therefore was in charge of the investigation, is Varda Hussain. [Washington Examiner, 4/14/11]

Hussain Was Reportedly Hired During The Bush Administration. From a March 2010 FoxNews.com article:

Varda Hussain, an attorney hired in 2008 with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, was an associate with the Washington-based firm Venable when she helped represent three Egyptians being held at Guantanamo Bay. [FoxNews.com, 3/3/10]

Adams Smeared Hussain For Representing Terror Suspects, Falsely Claimed Her Firm Used Euphemism To Hide Her Efforts

Adams: In Newsletter, Hussain's Firm Called Hussain's Clients "Merely 'Egyptian Clients'" But They Are "Terrorists." From Adams' op-ed:

Hussain used to be a lawyer at the Venable law firm in Virginia. In 2006, she received the firm's Benjamin R. Civiletti Pro Bono award for spending "over 500 hours in the past year fighting to bring due process to our clients."

Who were the particular clients Hussain spent so much time helping? Three Egyptian terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay. Although when the Venable firm wrote its internal newsletter that reported on this award, it called them merely "Egyptian clients," here's what they are: terrorists.

That sort of euphemism for murderous thugs who want to destroy America is needed at a law firm that doesn't want to upset its business clients about the work Hussain was doing to help America's deadliest enemies get away with murder and mayhem. She received an award for the work no less! [Washington Examiner, 4/14/11]

Hussain Was One Of Several Bush DOJ Hires Who Represented Terror Suspects

FoxNews.com Reported That Bush DOJ Hires Shah, Anderson, Also Represented Terror Suspects. From the March 2010 Fox News.com article:

The Obama Administration is not the first to hire lawyers who represented or advocated for terror suspects.

Pratik Shah, an assistant to the Solicitor General hired by the Bush Administration, was part of the WilmerHale team that put together arguments for the Boumediene v. Bush case.

Trisha Anderson, an adviser in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel who was also hired by the Bush Administration, was previously an attorney at Attorney General Eric Holder's former firm, Covington & Burling, where she helped represent 13 Yemeni detainees. [FoxNews.com, 3/5/10]

Hussain's Firm Did Not Hide Her Work Representing Terror Suspects

Hussain's Firm Actually Called Them "Egyptian Clients Who Are Being Held At Guantanamo Bay." From the Venable LLP newsletter Adams cited:

There were four attorneys whose pro bono accomplishments earned them Benjamin R. Civiletti Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Awards in recognition of their truly remarkable efforts. The Awards consisted of a handsome wall clock, as well as a contribution by the Venable Foundation of $1,000 to the charity of each recipient's choice. This year's winners are:

[...]

Since arriving at Venable, Varda has continued her work on behalf of others. She has toiled on behalf of several disadvantaged clients at our clinic at the Cedar Ridge Community Center. But what stands out in her history of giving is the remarkable work she's done on behalf of our three Egyptian clients who are being held at Guantanamo Bay. As an essential member of Carol Bruce's team of volunteers, Varda has spent over 500 hours in the past year fighting to bring due process to our clients.

The pride we feel in associating with these four remarkable lawyers is an important benefit of our pro bono program. We should also acknowledge the hundreds of our number who devoted over 23,000 hours in the last year in an effort to ease the burdens of our less-fortunate clients. [Venable LLP newsletter, Summer 2006]

Former Bush, Clinton Officials Criticized Such Attacks On DOJ lawyers As "Shameful," "Wrong," "Outrageous," "Cheap Shots"

Former Head Of OLC Walter Dellinger Slams Attacks On DOJ Lawyers Who Previously Represented Guantanamo Detainees As "Shameful." In a March 5, 2010, Washington Post op-ed, Walter Dellinger, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton administration, wrote:

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 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 questions their loyalty to the United States, asking: "DOJ: Department of Jihad?" and "Who are these government officials? ... Whose values do they share?"

[...]

That those in question would have their patriotism, loyalty and values attacked by reputable public figures such as Elizabeth Cheney and journalists such as Kristol is as depressing a public episode as I have witnessed in many years. 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. [Washington Post, 3/5/10]

Former Bush Administration Official Peter D. Keisler Says Attacks Are "Wrong." The New York Times reported on March 4, 2010:

A former Justice Department official who led the Bush administration's courtroom defense against lawsuits filed by Guantanamo detainees is denouncing attacks on Obama administration appointees who previously helped such prisoners challenge their indefinite detention without trial.

Peter D. Keisler, who was assistant attorney general for the civil division in the Bush administration, said in an interview that it was "wrong" to attack lawyers who volunteered to help such lawsuits before joining the Justice Department.

"There is a longstanding and very honorable tradition of lawyers representing unpopular or controversial clients," Mr. Keisler said. "The fact that someone has acted within that tradition, as many lawyers, civilian and military, have done with respect to people who are accused of terrorism -- that should never be a basis for suggesting that they are unfit in any way to serve in the Department of Justice." [New York Times, 3/4/10]

Former Bush Lawyer John Bellinger Calls Attacks "Inappropriate" "Cheap Shots." On the March 4, 2010, edition of CNN's The Situation Room, former Bush administration lawyer John Bellinger said of such criticisms:

BELLINGER: I think those sorts of cheap shots, suggesting that a lawyer who is simply defending a client somehow shares those views, are -- really are inappropriate... John Adams represented Tories who were accused of treason back in the revolution. This is the sort of work that we ought be applauding and not attacking. [CNN, Situation Room, 3/4/10]

Former Military Commissions Prosecutor Under Bush Col. Morris Davis Reportedly Calls Attacks "Outrageous." The Washington Independent reported on March 2, 2010

Via Ben Smith, Keep America Safe, the Cheneyite national-security revival tour, has a new video out insinuating that Justice Department attorneys who represented Guantanamo detainees are sympathetic to al-Qaeda, a brazen slander that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) put forward last week against such DOJ officials as Neal Katyal and Jennifer Daskal. Rushing to their defense is retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor of the Cheneys' beloved military commissions, who told me the attacks are "outrageous."

"Neal in particular was and is one of the sharpest and hardest-working attorneys I've known in the 27 years I've been practicing law," said Davis, who supervised prosecutions at Guantanamo from 2005 to 2007. "It is absolutely outrageous for the Cheney-Grassley crowd to try to tar and feather Neal and Jennifer and insinuate they are al-Qaeda supporters. You don't hear anyone refer to John Adams as a turncoat for representing the Brits in the Boston Massacre trial." Davis, of course, opposed Katyal on the famous case of Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan's habeas corpus rights -- a case that Katyal won in the Supreme Court, striking down the first iteration of the military commissions. "He was the epitome of professionalism, and I can't say that about a lot of the folks involved" in the commissions, Davis continued.

"If you zealously represent a client, there's nothing shameful about that," said the retired Air Force colonel. "That's the American way." [Washington Independent, 3/2/10]

Former Bush Lawyer Reginald Brown Calls Attacks "Beyond A Cheap Shot." According to a March 4, 2010, Washington Post article, former Bush lawyer Reginald Brown stated: "It's beyond a cheap shot to suggest that a lawyer is an al-Qaeda sympathizer because he advocates a detainee's position in the Supreme Court." [Washington Post, 3/3/10]

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