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Before his Senate confirmation hearings, Justice Samuel Alito was grilled by a series of so-called murder boards. The cast for these exhaustive prep sessions included in-house lawyers from a range of government offices, as well as two attorneys from the corporate world. Harriet Miers, the White House counsel, and Shannen Coffin, general counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, were among those who quizzed Alito on legal topics expected to come up during his Senate hearings. Adam Ciongoli, the GC of Time Warner Europe, and Timothy Flanigan, a senior in-house lawyer at Tyco International Ltd., also took part in the murder boards. Flanigan had his own grueling experience with the Senate process last year after being nominated by President George Bush for deputy attorney general. Flanigan withdrew after several Democratic senators questioned him about his role in developing the Bush administration’s policy on the use of torture in interrogations. He also took heat for Tyco’s relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff ["Top Priority: His Company," December 2005]. Benjamin Powell, a frequent participant in Alito’s murder boards, was the subject of pointed questions during the judge’s confirmation hearings from Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin). A lawyer in the White House counsel’s office, Powell was involved in constructing the legal justification for the domestic wiretapping program involving the National Security Agency. Powell recently received a recess appointment as general counsel to the director of the Office of National Intelligence.

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