Difference Maker David Kris heads to Seattle

Childhood friend David Kris is packing up his  family and heading to Seattle.

For the past two years, Dave has served as Assistant Attorney General for National Security, a position whose creation he advocated for during his first stint in Washington, D.C.

As Talking Points Memo notes, he’s been busy:

Kris, DOJ said in a press release “helped lead the department’s response to a number of serious threats to the nation, including the attempted bombing of Times Square, the al-Qaeda plot to bomb the New York subway system, the attempted detonation of a bomb onboard an airliner on Christmas Day 2009, and the arrest and prosecution of Mumbai plotter David Headley.”

These are major contributions, and not the first that Dave has made to public life in the nearly 20 years since graduating with future boss Barack Obama from Harvard Law School.

His Wikipedia entry writes the following:

Kris attracted significant public attention when he released a 23-page legal memorandum, in his personal capacity, sharply criticizing the George W. Bush administration’s legal argument that it had authority to conduct warrantless domestic wiretapping due to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists passed by Congress on September 18, 2001. [2] [3] [4] Law professor Marty Lederman called Kris’s memo “by a large measure the most thorough and careful — and, for those reasons, the most devastating — critique anyone has offered of the DOJ argument that Congress statutorily authorized the NSA program.” [5] He also makes shorter arguments regarding the Fourth Amendment implications of the warrantless domestic spying and the administration’s “unitary executive theory” of Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Kris wrote the memorandum in January 2006, and released it to journalists on March 8, 2006. Kris had also exchanged a series of emails with Courtney Elwood, an associate counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, debating the legal arguments, which were released by the Electronic Privacy Information Center after obtaining them under the Freedom of Information Act. [6]

Dave’s principled and detailed analysis, as well as his service in the Bush Administration, gave his arguments added impact because they were not seen to have been motivated by ideology or partisan affiliation.

After resigning, Dave will be moving with his wife Jody and their two daughters to Seattle, where he will serve as general counsel for a technology investment group called Intellectual Ventures.

I imagine that the call of public service may eventually strike him again.  Until then, though, we are well served to appreciate the contribution he has made to our nation’s safety.


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