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Att'y general failed to give legal briefs to Senate


Attorney General Eric Holder pauses during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington in this February 22, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington in this February 22, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Attorney General Eric Holder failed to tell the Senate about seven legal briefs he signed when lawmakers considered his nomination to his current job, according to a letter released on Friday.

Two of the briefs involved appeals to the Supreme Court for Jose Padilla, who sought release from a military prison in South Carolina where he was being held after then-President George W. Bush designated him an "enemy combatant."

Padilla was held in a military brig for three years before his case was moved to a criminal court in Miami, where he was convicted on charges of offering his services to militants.

The Justice Department sent the Senate Judiciary Committee, which vets presidential nominees, a list of briefs that were omitted on Friday. "We regret the omission," Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich said in a letter to the panel.

Holder has been facing intense scrutiny as the Obama administration tries to decide whether to prosecute terrorism suspects like the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in military or criminal courts.

The attorney general had been spearheading that effort but concerns about holding those trials in criminal court forced the White House to intervene and officials are now weighing whether to prosecute Mohammed and four of his alleged co-conspirators in a military court.

Previously, Holder has disclosed to the Senate five briefs he submitted to the Supreme Court during his law practice. From July 2001 until being confirmed by the Senate as attorney general, Holder worked at Covington & Burling in Washington.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department said Holder failed to tell the Senate about one brief he signed related to the Padilla case, prompting outcries from Republicans who said it offered more details about Holder's views on key policies.

The other six briefs related to issues such as race discrimination and a challenge to a prison sentence.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Todd Eastham)

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