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Solicitor General and Deputy Attorney General Named

Elena Kagan, left, at a Harvard Law School forum. (Doc Searls/Flickr)

By Carrie Johnson and Robert Barnes
The new Justice Department began to take shape this morning as President-elect Barack Obama announced he would nominate a quartet of well known lawyers to key posts including the department's chief operating officer, its top representative to the U.S. Supreme Court and the chief of the Office of Legal Counsel.

As expected, David W. Ogden will be nominated to serve as deputy attorney general, second in command to Attorney General-designee Eric H. Holder Jr. Ogden is a partner at the WilmerHale law firm in Washington. He previously led the Justice Department's civil division and held several other top advisory posts at Justice and Defense in the Clinton Administration.

Ogden has been overseeing the Justice Department transition team, with an assist from Tom Perrelli, a Harvard law school classmate of Obama's who today was selected to lead the department's civil division. Perrelli, a genial Justice veteran, currently manages the Washington office of the law firm Jenner & Block.

Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, a leading contender for the deputy job, instead will become the U.S. Solicitor General, the administration's liaison with the Supreme Court. The SG job, often likened to being the court's "tenth justice," can be a springboard to an eventual nomination to the Supreme Court. Kagan has been law school dean since 2003, where she balanced hiring to include conservative legal voices and won plaudits from the GOP. She previously held domestic policy and legal posts in the White House during the Clinton era.

And Dawn Johnsen, an Indiana University law school professor who has been handling transition work for the department's sensitive Office of Legal Counsel, today was picked to lead the office. The once obscure OLC took on new importance during the Bush Administration after lawyers there blessed coercive detainee interrogation practices and warrantless domestic surveillance programs. Johnsen had served as an OLC deputy in the Clinton era. In an interview before the election, Johnsen told the Washington Post that a review of all of the Bush era legal opinions would be a major undertaking for the new administration.

"These individuals bring the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times," Obama said in a prepared statement. "I have the fullest confidence that they will ensure that the Department of Justice once again fulfills its highest purpose: to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people."

Holder, the Attorney General nominee, will begin Senate confirmation hearings January 15. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) has expressed interest in quickly moving nominees for critical Justice Department posts through the Senate as part of a package deal.

Yet to be named are leaders for two other important department units: the criminal division and the national security division, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 5, 2009; 11:21 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Cast of Characters  
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Not being a DOJ attorney, I do not recall your situation, i.e., I do not recall if it was one that 'could be treated' by attendance at 12 step meetings, where one had to watch a tendency 'to overwork' at the expense of their recovery.

In any event, I would hope that you would now reapply in any event and best wishes for a Happy New Year to all at DOJ.

Posted by: | January 5, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I look forward to seeing professionalism and integrity restored to the Department of Justice from where it has been stripped these past eight years. There is no integrity in an Agency that would allow the firing of a Federal employee of 21 years who transferred at her own expense, set up and managed a department for them despite her disability. At the hands of a power-hungry U.S. Attorney who only had to report to GWB, I was fired because of my disability and the arrogance that prevailed throughout this administration provided me with that in writing, along with the written statement that my need to manage my symptoms at the end of my work day was a "personal convenience." My belief is that this outstanding group of leaders will only raise the agency to a level of respect we can all be proud of and one that we have never seen before. While the violation of Federal law within the agency may continue by some, I am confident that it will no longer be tolerated.

Posted by: pgrassick | January 5, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Please do NOT WASTE TIME AND MONEY in seeking prosecution of Bush officials.

OBAMA MAY NEED THE TOOLS THEY DEVELOPED in dealing with the very real War on Terror.

A CURRENT EXAMPLE is the HAMAS 'government' [sic] in Gaza. They have had 6 months to seek investment in Gaza for the benefit of the People of Gaza, but did they do that?


They spent the 6 month preparing to attack Israel, using human shields, putting weapons in Mosque[s] and firing mortars from the cover of elementary schools

Predator drone footage is on YouTube and cited elsewhere in today's comments sections addressing Israel.


Posted by: | January 5, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, most of Obama's cabinet picks prove him to testicularly challenged. I guess all we have left to rely on is his intellect. Hopefully his brain works better than his heart.

Pragmatist. Another word for coward.

Posted by: captainkona | January 5, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

This article has an error. Perrelli will be the Associate Attorney General. The Civil Division is just one of many divisions that falls under the AAG. The head of Civil has not yet been named.

Posted by: anon31 | January 5, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. David Ogden
Mr. Eric Holder, Jr.
Ms. Elena Kagan
Ms. Dawn Johnson,

Welcome to your new post. I hope that the integrity that you will restore at the DOJ can seed the start of some at the DC Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Services Division.

On Jan. 13, 2009 at 9AM OR 9:30AM - don't know - the AG's office is seeking child support from my exhusband. The AG's haven't contacted me to inform me of the date, time, court room or legal documents needed from me to SECURE their case.

I have CALLED Ms. Benida Rice, Director, Ms. Julia Johnson, Ms. Keisha Mc-Cauley-Jackson, Ms. Pen in the CSSD Legal Office, asked for an Attorney contact, information shared and info. accepted about this case.

I have IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS and INFORMATION that could make a difference and GET the city their MONEY back and then some. But the lawyer's won't take my calls, won't call me back OR take my documents. What else can I do?

I have submitted TWO online complaints to the OAG's Intranet Quorum (tracking #140831 and #140871), asking them to look into this case, call to get my documents. Most recently, I talked to Attorney General Peter Nickles' Assistant, Ms. Valerie Scott to try and help unravel this confusion. Ms. Scott has accepted my complaint and just moments ago promised to research it within the CSSD legal department.

These lawyers for the District are SUPPOSE to be getting child support for the CITY - for the MOTHERS!! My experience says that they are NOT REALLY trying to do their jobs! If they would JUST take the information and document that I have - we'd all be okay!

No one has processed this as their duty would indicate. The city's lawyers are not getting me child support.

If not the DC Offc. of Attny. General - then who?

I've tried, I cannot do it by myself. I am on DC Public Assistance, receiving food stamps, TANF cash and Medicaid. The city, legally is responsible to recoop monies from my SOMETIME WORKING exhusband - yet they don't seem interested in doing so.

As you take your new positions, PLEASE look into this matter SOONER than LATER. My support hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday, January 13th in one of the court rooms, bet. 9AM - 9:30AM.

I hope that you can help me before then get the city lawyer to contact me, coordinate with me the information that would make a difference.

did you know - that if I fail to provide ALL the information relevant to the city receiving child support reimbursement from my ex, that my public assistance could be reduced? I'm going to be sanctioned because the lawyers won't take the information.

Please help.
Katrina M. Taylor Hankins
226 Missouri Ave NW
Washington, DC 20011

Posted by: kthankins | January 5, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

lowercaselarry posted January 5, 2009 2:26 PM
"The parrots seem to all be here this morning."

And they brought "Crackers" with them.

Posted by: knjincvc | January 5, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I truly hope they go after Cheney and co, making every day miserable for that whole war crimes crew.

Every single day, until justice is served -- and ya know, justice is never phyrric.

Who could ever think justice served represents a phyrric victory?

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | January 5, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The parrots seem to all be here this morning.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | January 5, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I breathlessly await the next Waco, Texas incident to be swept uinder the rug.

Posted by: jackolantyrn356 | January 5, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

When do the investigations of the Bush Crime Family begin? That's change I can believe in.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 5, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

A "third" Clinton term? Change you can count on? Where is Janet Reno? Watch out Waco and Ruby Ridge. Watch out First and Second Amendments ...

Posted by: OIFVet06 | January 5, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama's sugar smacks song:

can't get enough of those clinton folks
clinton folks, clinton folks

don't know a thing of my own and so
clinton folks clinton folks

Obama is such a copy cat xeroxing know nothing puppet

Nothing "different" because he is a 50 year old done nothing


Just a one term Junior Senator DC Boys Club puppet

Wow did they part the waters for him

Yeah - freshman puppet

Posted by: Thinker | January 5, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Where is the "Change"? All I'm seeing is the same old hacks being recycled.

Posted by: HUDAHAR | January 5, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Kagan is well-loved by virtually everyone at HLS, and seems likely headed to SCOTUS. Small correction: Kagan began her deanship in 2003, not 1993.

Posted by: ridiculogic | January 5, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

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