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Obama nominates Yale law dean to be State Department legal adviser

[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [official profile] on Monday nominated [WH press release; YLS press release] Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh [professional profile] to be legal adviser [official website] to the Department of State (DOS) [official website]. Koh was touted by Obama as an authority on public and private international law, national security law, and human rights. He previously served as assistant secretary of state for human rights and labor under the Clinton administration before becoming Dean at Yale in 2004.

If confirmed, Koh would replace current legal adviser John Bellinger III [JURIST news archive], nominated by the Bush administration, and would provide counsel on international law to the secretary of state and US embassies around the world. Bellinger defended US legal policy in the "war on terror" [JURIST report] in a variety of international legal and diplomatic venues and was one of the principal drafters of the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act [text; PDF, JURIST news archive] that created the Director of National Intelligence [official website].

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