Laurence H. Silberman

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Laurence H. (Larry) Silberman, a senior judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is listed among the "Top Contenders"[1] to replace Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales "whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress". Gonzales resigned August 27, 2007,[2] and will leave office on September 17, 2007.[3][4]

"Several Democrats and legal experts said Silberman would have difficulty winning confirmation because of his political resume — including overturning Oliver North's conviction and discrediting Anita Hill during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings," NewsMax reported August 28, 2007.[1]

Silberman has been identified as "a long-time, right-wing political activist closely tied to the neo-conservative network that led the pro-war propaganda campaign."[5]

"As a former Reagan advisor, Mr Silberman took part in a meeting between top Republicans and Iranian government representatives during the 1980 election campaign, when the Carter administration was trying to negotiate the release of American hostages in Tehran. Judge Silberman and two aides who took part in the meeting later claimed they had rejected the Iranian offer of a deal and did not even remember the name of the Iranian representative. But the meeting was never reported to the state department, at a time of high tension in the US-Iranian relations."[6]

According to the February 7, 2004, edition of the New York Times[7] "Judge Silberman, 68, works part-time on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and is one of three judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, a body that hears appeals in matters of intelligence gathering. Considered a stalwart conservative, he was senior foreign policy and intelligence advisor to the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign, playing a role in a meeting with an Iranian emissary in an effort to have 52 American hostages released a month before the election."


Judge Silberman was named on February 6, 2004, by President George W. Bush to serve as co-chairman to the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"Silberman, who served as deputy attorney general in the Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford administrations, was named to the appeals court by President Reagan in 1985."[8]

According to CNN, Silberman is "a senior circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He was a member the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. The intelligence court, created in 1978, is charged with overseeing sensitive law enforcement surveillance by the U.S. government.

"Silberman has served as undersecretary of Labor, deputy U.S. attorney general and ambassador to Yugoslavia. From 1981 to 1985, he was part of an advisory committee on disarmament and a member of the Department of Defense Policy Board. Silberman was appointed to the bench by President Reagan in 1985."[9]

"As Jonathan Broder reported in Salon at the time, 'U.S. Judge Laurence H. Silberman wrote a scathing opinion that accused Attorney General Janet Reno of acting not on behalf of the U.S. government, but in the personal interests of President Clinton. Then, using language seldom seen in the federal judiciary, Silberman questioned whether Clinton himself, by allowing his aides to attack Starr, was 'declaring war on the United States.'

"Of course, if David Brock's allegations against Silberman are true -- and, as the Alliance for Justice points out, neither Silberman nor his allies have ever refuted or even challenged them -- then Silberman shouldn't have been ruling on the case at all.

"Indeed, that's why the Alliance for Justice was planning its report on Silberman even before Bush chose him to head the intelligence panel. The investigation was intended as a case study in the danger of elevating the kind of far-right judicial nominees Bush has put forward.

"'The Judicial Selection Project of the Alliance for Justice has prepared this report on the record of Judge Silberman before and after taking the bench,' it begins. 'Why? Because federal judges should not do what Brock claims Silberman did. They are supposed to be impartial arbiters, not partisan advocates. Because a judge like Silberman enjoys an enormous amount of influence in this country, and not just by virtue of his seat on the second most prestigious and powerful court in this country; he is known as a 'feeder judge,' having sent some twenty of his clerks to the Supreme Court and, according to former clerk Paul Clement, a 'tremendous number' of Silberman's former clerks are currently working in the Bush administration. Because even those cynics who believe that federal judges are guided on the bench by partisan ideology should be dismayed by Silberman's alleged conduct off the bench.'

"For Silberman's critics, naming him to get to the bottom of one of the most divisive political controversies of our time is even more egregious than Bush's attempt to put Henry Kissinger in charge of the 9/11 investigation."[10]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 "5 Top Contenders for Attorney General," NewsMax, August 28, 2007.
  2. Gonzales' resignation letter dated August 26, 2007, posted by TPMmuckraker, August 27, 2007.
  3. Pierre Thomas, et al., "Attorney General Gonzales Resigns," ABC News, August 27, 2007.
  4. "Gonzales Resigns," Think Progress, August 27, 2007.
  5. Jim Lobe, "Co-Chair of Bush Panel Part of Far Right Network," Inter Press Service, February 6, 2004. Cross-posted at Common Dreams.
  6. Julian Borger, "Ex-judge on Iraq inquiry 'involved in cover-up'," Guardian (UK), February 10, 2004.
  7. "Investigating the Iraq War" (graphic), New York Times, February 7, 2004.
  8. This is an Associated Press story published online by Yahoo!, which is now an inactive link.
  9. "Bush names panel to review Iraq intelligence. Move comes amid Democratic criticism," CNN, February 7, 2004. See interactive link.
  10. This link to is no longer active.

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