Why does President Barack Obama continue to embrace many Bush Administration policies related to justice and the war on terrorism? It's probably because Obama's White House counsel has myriad conflicts related to the Bush administration, says an Alabama lawyer who played a pivotal role as whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case.
The most recent curious move by Obama officials came when the Department of Justice filed a brief renewing the government's motion to dismiss Rasul v. Rumsfeld, in which plaintiffs allege that former Bush defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was responsible for their torture.
This continues an alarming trend of Obama embracing policies that he appeared to criticize on the campaign trail, reports Scott Horton of Harper's.
How could this happen? How could the president of "hope" and "change" agree on important issues with George W. Bush? Alabama attorney Jill Simpson points a finger at White House Counsel Greg Craig.
In the days leading up to her testimony before a Congressional committee about the Siegelman case, Simpson had extensive interactions with Craig. He expressed interest in representing her but wound up declining, citing a conflict involving U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). Simpson has since learned of Craig's connections to Karl Rove and expressed her concerns that Craig might have taken privileged information gleaned from her and shared it with Rove or others.
Craig played a central role in negotiations that resulted in Rove being allowed to provide testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in a non-public setting. Now, Simpson says, Craig appears to be helping to provide cover for Rumsfeld.
Why? It could be because Rumsfeld is represented by Craig's former firm, Williams & Connolly. In fact, Simpson says, Rumsfeld, Rove, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush all are represented by Williams & Connolly.
"I think (this) knowledge will help everyone understand why we are not moving away from the Bush agenda on torture and punishing those guilty of war crimes . . . ," Simpson says. "After you realize (the Williams & Connolly connections), I think you will understand why the DOJ and the White House are siding with these folks in the torture cases, when clearly the law says something completely different."
Should citizens step back and allow Craig free reign in the Obama White House? Definitely not, says Simpson.
"Something must be done, and I hope every American becomes aware of this matter. We are losing our world standing over our support of torture, and Obama promised to do the right thing. But (recent information) coming out of the White House suggests he has made a U turn on his promises.
"If Craig is encouraging Obama to side with his old firm's clients, then President Obama must fire Greg Craig."
Craig's influence does not stop with Obama, Simpson says. It might extend to Attorney General Eric Holder.
"Mr. Holder has also been a client of Williams & Connolly and may be listening to Greg Craig as well.
"It is amazing to me that a lawyer from a firm that represents President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Donald Rumsfeld would ever be picked to be the chief legal counsel for President Obama, a Democrat.
"I have to wonder about the vetting, but then again the press has said that somehow Greg Craig was in charge of that. I just wonder if President Obama had anyone vet the vetter when he selected Greg Craig."