04/11/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Architect of Bush Military Commissions Gets Key Obama Job

A key behind-the-scenes architect of the Bush administration's first version of the military commissions for terrorism suspects -- which the Supreme Court found to unconstitutionally restrict the legal rights of detainees -- will take a central Pentagon position dealing with detainee policy for the Obama administration.

William Lietzau, a Marine colonel who currently serves as deputy legal counsel to the National Security Council, is poised to become the Pentagon's new deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs in the next several weeks. Lietzau, an international law expert described even by his critics as a brilliant and energetic attorney, previously served as a special adviser to Jim Haynes, the top Pentagon lawyer during Donald H. Rumsfeld's tenure, when Rumsfeld and Haynes codified torture and indefinite detention as hallmarks of Bush-era terrorism policy. The position, which is not subject to Senate confirmation, came open late last year, after Phil Carter, the previous deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs and a favorite of civil libertarians, abruptly resigned.

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