Recently confirmed Assistant Attorney General Tony West, a former partner at Morrison & Foerster’s San Francisco office, will be recused from some high-profile national security cases confronting the new Obama Justice Department, though the DOJ won’t lay out which ones.
West is closely tied to Hepting v. AT&T and Jewel v. NSA, both brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation after an AT&T whistleblower revealed the telecom’s role in government wiretapping. West once represented the whistleblower, Mark Klein, so we figure he’ll have to keep well away from those.
DOJ civil division spokesman Charles Miller said West is “recused from the state secrets cases involving AT&T,” but did not respond to follow-ups asking which ones.
We know what you're thinking: What about Al-Haramain? Follow the jump ...
The government asserted state secrets in both cases, failing in Hepting. A decision in Jewel is pending. Both cases are before Northern District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who is also presiding over the much-watched Al-Haramain v. Obama warrantless surveillance suit.
It remains unclear whether West will be recused from Al-Haramain, arguably the case with the best chance of proving illegal surveillance under the Bush administration.
“As regard the other (and possibly related cases), [West] says they'll have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis,” Miller wrote to LegalPad. Though Al-Haramain does not involve the AT&T evidence, it is being coordinated with the Hepting case, and the same DOJ lawyers are working on both.
West’s name has started showing up on DOJ filings in other cases, but not on any involving NSA wiretapping.
— Evan Hill