US Attorney General Eric Holder has upset many Americans with his decision to try some of the accused 9-11 Gitmo terrorists in New York.

Some are  accusing Holder of a conflict of interest concerning his former employer, Covington & Burling. Holder will be prosecuting some of the same people his former employer is defending.

Holder left a salary of over $2 million there to work as U.S. Attorney General for $186,600! Covington & Burling is representing sixteen Gitmo terrorists. They are not charging fees yet, but I imagine they will probably present a big bill to the US Government at the end of the trial.

Eric Holder also drew fire for refusing to reveal conflicts of interest involving Justice Department lawyers who had represented Guatanamo detainees.

There are some weird twists here. Most of Holder’s criticism comes from the Republican side, but Attorney General Eric Holder’s old law firm, Covington & Burling, previously represented the Republican National Committee (RNC)!

Another irony is that while Holder’s new boss, US President Obama,  has vowed to crack down on money laundering, Holder represented UBS while he was at Covington & Burling.

I don’t know what to make of it. Is this partisan politics or is there something here?

I am appending several quotes on this issue for you to draw your own conclusions.

This is what Skeptical Brotha had to say:

While defending corporate criminals like Southern Peru Copper from any accountability for their crimes against the defenseless poor under the Alien Tort Claims Act, Covington & Burling has an interesting record of pro-bono work that has established the Fifth Amendment rights of Guantanamo detainees and defended abortion rights against the right-wing. Moreover, they’ve won a number of significant and high profile employment discrimination lawsuits on behalf of people of color.

Washington Examiner, 11/19/09: Did Holder stiff Senate on Justice Dept. lawyers who defended jihadis?

Some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee were taken aback Wednesday by Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to reveal conflicts of interest involving Justice Department lawyers who, before joining the Obama administration, worked on behalf of Guatanamo detainees. …

Grassley brought up the case of Neal Katyal, who is now the Principal Deputy Solicitor General. Katyal, formerly a law professor at Georgetown University, worked on legal challenges to the Military Commission Act — he represented Osama bin Laden’s driver — and is reportedly still working on detainee questions at the Justice Department. Other department lawyers represented other detainees. “I want to know more about these potential conflicts,” Grassley told Holder:

GopUSANJ.com, 11/18/09: Attorney General Eric Holder’s Conflict Of Interest

What is the issue? Holder’s former law firm, Covington & Burling, represents sixteen Gitmo terrorists. From the firm’s web site:

Guantanamo Bay Detainees

  • We represent sixteen men detained at the United States Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  Most of the men have been detained for approximately seven years.  None have been charged with any crimes, and none have been accorded the protections of the Geneva Convention.  In Boumediene v. Bush, 128 S. Ct. 2229 (2008), where we were co-counsel for eleven of the detainees, the Supreme Court held that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus extends to detainees held at Guantánamo Bay.  Following that decision, we have been preparing for habeas corpus hearings to be held in federal district court Washington, DC, for eleven of our clients.
  • The firm has been involved in the Guantánamo related litigation for the last five years.  In addition to the on-going habeas corpus proceedings, our efforts have included: bringing cases for review of enemy combatant classification decisions in the D.C. Circuit under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005; challenging the destruction of CIA torture tapes in federal court; filing amicus briefs and coordinating the amicus effort in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006); filing amicus briefs in support of Supreme Court review in Moussaoui v. United States, 382 F.3d 483 (4th Cir.), cert denied, 544 U.S. 931 (2005); challenging the government’s practice of redacting information from documents given to security-cleared habeas counsel; and challenging the abusive medical and living conditions that the detainees experience at Guantánamo.

It should also be noted that Holder has a history of going to bat for terrorists. When he was Deputy AG in the Clinton Administration he was directly involved in the pardons of FALN terrorists which caused an uproar in the waning days of Clinton’s term in office.

Democratic Underground, 9/18/09: Legal Schnauzer: Holder’s Former Law Firm Brags About Its GOP Ties

We recently learned that Attorney General Eric Holder’s old law firm has alarmingly close ties to the Republican National Committee (RNC) and key figures from the George W. Bush administration.

Now we learn that the firm, Covington & Burling, actually brags on its Web site about its role in helping protect Karl Rove’s e-mails that were stored on RNC servers.

Sourcewatch on Holder and Covington & Burling

At the time [he was nominated as the US Attorney-General], Holder was a litigation partner for Covington & Burling, handling “complex civil and criminal cases, domestic and international advisory matters and internal corporate investigations.” [2] At the law and lobby firm, Holder represented “UBS Financial Services Inc. in an alleged discrimination case, Merck & Co. in a matter related to the company’s drug pricing and sales practices, Chiquita Brands International Inc. in a plea deal arising from a subsidiary’s payments to Colombian paramilitary groups, and Hewlett-Packard Co.’s board of directors in litigation related an internal leak investigation. Holder also registered as a lobbyist while in private practice, representing Global Crossing Inc., and several other companies.” [3] Holder’s Covington & Burling salary was “more than $2 million dollars” a year. The annual salary for the U.S. Attorney General is $186,600. [4]