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Defense Department General Counsel Resigning at End of Year
Jeh Johnson, the general counselfor the U.S. Department of Defense, has announced that he is stepping down atthe end of the year.
In a letter Thursday addressed to President Barack Obama, Johnson said that hewould resign effective midnight December 31, and that after taking some timeoff, he would return to private practice.
"Thank you for theopportunity to be part of your campaign, your transition and yourAdministration," Johnson wrote. "Thank you also for the best clientsI will ever have: Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, and the men and women of the U.S.military. I wish you continued success in your second term."
Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale,Johnson's public affairs officer, declined to say what Jonson's future privatepractice plans were. Prior to joining the department, Johnson was a litigationpartner with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
PaulWeiss head of communications, Lisa Green, did not immediately respond to arequest for comment.
At the Defense Department, Johnsonoversees an army of 10,000 lawyers, including 150 who report to the generalcounsel's office. He was confirmed to the post in February 2009.
Duringhis time at the agency, Johnson authored a 266-page report that said thatallowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military would cause fewdisruptions. That report paved the way for Congress to repeal the "Don'tAsk, Don't Tell" policy.
Johnson was also instrumental in theObama administration's handling of military commission trials at GuantanamoBay, Cuba, and the legality of U.S. military involvement in Libya.
This article originally appeared as a post on The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes.
See also: "Department of Defense GC Keynotes Pentagon LGBT Pride Event," CorpCounsel, June 2012.