Key Vacancies Atop U.S. Justice Department


Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Comey leaves office today to become Lockheed Martin Corp.’s general counsel, says the Washington Post. The department’s criminal division has been without a permanent chief for three months. Divisions covering antitrust and civil rights investigations are under temporary leadership. New appointments for deputy attorney general and criminal division chief, which have been held up by disputes in the Senate, are unlikely to be approved until at least mid-September.

“There’s a huge concern that we’re sitting without confirmed leadership for this many weeks,” said one senior Justice official. The candidate to replace Comey, former deputy White House counsel Timothy E. Flanigan, came under sharp questioning from some senators last month about his role in setting U.S. policy on torture and his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was indicted yesterday. A vote on Alice Fisher, nominated to head the criminal division, has been blocked by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mi.), who wants more information from the administration related to detainee-abuse allegations. The department may replace Comey temporarily with Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum. McCallum is a friend and Yale classmate of President Bush.


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