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Law Prof Who Proposed US Court to Try Gitmo Detainees Gets DOJ Nod

Posted Jan 21, 2009 7:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Two Georgetown law professors who have been critics of Bush administration legal policies have been appointed to posts in the Justice Department.

Neal Katyal has been appointed principal deputy solicitor general and Marty Lederman has been appointed deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, according to the Washington Post (reg. req.) and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. “The Obama Justice Department is starting to look like a hotbed of anti-Guantanamo and anti-torture folks,” Post columnist Al Kamen observes.

While Katyal has challenged Guantanamo military commissions in court, he has also proposed a solution: a new federal court to try Guantanamo detainees.

Their appointments come as Mark Filip, a former federal judge who had been second in command at the department, takes over temporarily as acting attorney general, reports The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. Filip is expected to serve until Eric Holder is confirmed for the top job.

Katyal represented Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the driver for Osama bin Laden, in a successful U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the president’s authority to create military commissions without legislative authority, the BLT reported Saturday. In a New Yorker article, Katyal suggested that a new federal court should be created to try terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Federal judges would preside in the so-called National Security Court, and suspects would be represented by lawyers, under Katyal's proposal. But hearsay evidence and evidence obtained without Miranda warnings would be admissible.

Lederman is a critic of warrantless wiretapping and a Justice Department memo that authorized harsh interrogation tactics for terrorism suspects.

Corrected at 8:13 a.m. to clarify that Filip is taking over as acting attorney general.

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