Ogden a Top Candidate for Justice Dept. No. 2
By Carrie Johnson
David W. Ogden, who oversees the Justice Department transition for President-elect Barack Obama, has emerged as the top candidate to become the department's second in command.
Ogden, a partner at the WilmerHale law firm in the District, ran the Justice Department's civil division during the Clinton administration. He also has experience with military issues after working as a deputy in the general counsel's office at the Defense Department. He developed close ties as an adviser to both former attorney general Janet Reno and former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick, who went on to become his law partner.
Ogden did not return calls seeking comment today. But sources close to the transition say he appears to be edging out Harvard Law School dean Elena Kagan to serve as deputy attorney general. The DAG essentially works as the 108,000 person department's chief operating officer, a job that requires extensive management skills at a time when officials are grappling with scarce resources and trying to chart a course that protects both national security and civil liberties.
Among the top challenges out of the gate will be how to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and how to develop a new regime for interrogating terrorism suspects.
Ogden's experience in the civil division could complement the criminal justice background of Eric H. Holder Jr., who is all but certain to be nominated by Obama as attorney general in the coming days. Holder is a former D.C. Superior Court judge and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. He also worked as the deputy attorney general in the final years of President Bill Clinton's tenure.
Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. could announce their national security team soon after Thanksgiving, in a rollout similar to the economic slate that emerged today.
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