As a third top Treasury nominee withdraws from consideration (see Mark’s item, below) and Vivek Kundra, President Obama’s Chief White House Information Officer, takes a leave of absence following the FBI’s raid on his former office, the administration announces that attorney Tony West, who volunteered his services to represent John Walker Lindh (the so-called “American Taliban” convicted after making war against his country), is the president’s choice to lead the Civil Division at the Department of Justice. The San Francisco Chronicle supplies a helpful profile, including this:
[West] also took part in the defense of Lindh, the Marin County man who was a 20-year-old Taliban soldier in Afghanistan when he was captured in November 2001. Lindh pleaded guilty in 2002 to serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
West, who ran unsuccessfully for a state Assembly seat in San Jose in 2000, has acknowledged that the Lindh case dampened his political prospects, but said it was the kind of work he believed in.
“I really believe that in working on that case, I was recommitting myself to those principles of due process, fairness – things that separate us from most nations in the world,” he told The Chronicle in an interview last year.
West’s wife, Maya Harris, is a former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California who recently took a job with the Ford Foundation.