As the widow of Captain Phillip Esposito, USA, who was murdered in Iraq in 2005 and whose killer was subsequently acquitted by court-martial held before XVIII Airborne Corps in 2008, I wish to voice my opposition to Mr. Debo Adegbile, the President’s nominee to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice.
In reviewing the letters sent to you in support of Mr. Adegbile, a reoccurring theme is evident: Mr. Adegbile’s actions in defense of death-row appellant Mumia Abu-Jamal are ostensibly above reproach on the grounds that every criminal defendant is entitled to the assistance of legal counsel.
This claim misses a corollary truth: while every criminal defendant has a right to a zealous defender, they do not enjoy a right to an over-zealous defender. Moreover, a lawyer’s actions in support of a client, both in and out of court, while technically permissible, may nevertheless reveal substantial defects in character, temperament, and philosophy that make that lawyer unsuited to positions of great national trust and power. I need not engage in an extended soliloquy to successfully argue that the 1982 trial of Abu-Jamal and his subsequent appeals were caustic affairs, or that Abu-Jamal and his defenders, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Mr. Adegbile among them, resorted to some of the most vicious tactics in memory, to include a multi-year propaganda campaign against the Philadelphia Police Department, Abu-Jamal’s victim, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, and Officer Faulkner’s widow, Mrs. Maureen Faulkner.
It is this propaganda campaign, stunningly world-wide in scope, which troubles me most, particularly for its flippant regard for the truth, divisive racial smears, and unjust impact upon Officer Faulkner’s widow. To turn around and claim that those linked to it are nevertheless qualified to hold positions of great trust—and in Mr. Adegbile’s case, great trust related to enforcing laws related to the mission of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice—is jarring in its arrogance and cruelty.
At root, the Civil Rights Division requires greater leadership and more nuanced discretion than Mr. Adegbile seemingly possesses. I ask that your committee reject his nomination accordingly.
Mrs. Siobhan Esposito