Obama names Indian-American lawyer Neal Katyal to key post

January 20th, 2009 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 20 (IANS) Hours before his inauguration, president-elect Barack Obama Tuesday tapped another top Indian-American lawyer, Neal Kumar Katyal, to the key post of principal deputy Solicitor General.Katyal, professor of law at the Georgetown University Law School in Washington, DC, as number two person at the Solicitor General’s office will be the highest ranking Indian American in the US department of justice.

His appointment follows that of another Indian-American lawyer Preeta Bansal as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of Management (OMB) and Budget at the White House.

Katyal,37, shot into fame June 29, 2006, when the US Supreme Court agreed with Katyal’s arguments on behalf of Salim Ahmed Hamdan - a former chauffeur for Osama bin Laden - which challenged the policy of military trials at Guantanamo Bay.

Katyal’s appointment is another strong signal of Obama’s intentions to depart sharply from the terrorist detention and interrogation policies of the Bush administration, the Legal Times said.

In Hamdan case, the Supreme Court found that the Bush administration’s military commissions for trying suspected terrorists violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions.

Katyal was named Lawyer of the Year in 2006 by Lawyers USA, runner-up for Lawyer of the Year 2006 by the National Law Journal, one of the top 50 litigators nationwide 45-year-old or younger by American Lawyer in 2007, one of the 30 best advocates before the US supreme court by Washingtonian magazine in 2007.

Born and raised in Chicago, Katyal was in public schools from elementary to middle school and then “my parents wanted to keep me away from girls, so they sent me to a Catholic boy’s school, the Loyola Academy in Chicago”.

He went to Dartmouth for his bachelor’s degree in government and Indian history, then to the Yale Law School.

Katyal served as national security adviser in the US Justice Department and was commissioned by President Bill Clinton to write a report on the need for more legal pro bono work. He also served as vice-president Al Gore’s co-counsel in Bush v. Gore of 2000.

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