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United States President Barack Obama [Images] has appointed yet another top Indian American legal mind to a senior position in his administration.
Rashad Hussain, 30, who recently served as a trial attorney at the US Department of Justice, was named by Obama as Deputy Associate Counsel to the President.
Earlier, the President had named Preeta Bansal, 42, as Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Management and Budget, and Neal Katyal, 38 as Principal Deputy Solicitor General, the number two position in the Office of the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice.
Before his stint with the DOJ, Hussain was working as a law clerk to Damon K Keith on the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Detroit, Michigan.
He has also served as a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee, where he reviewed legislation such as the USA Patriot Act. During his first stint on Capitol Hill, he worked as an intern for former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt, during the summer of 2000.
Hussain is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from where he received his bachelor's degree with the highest distinction in philosophy and political science, which he completed in two years. He received his JD from Yale University and his MPA from Harvard University.
He also holds a MA from Harvard in Near Eastern languages and civilisations.
At the University of North Carolina, Hussain, who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, received the highest honour for his philosophy thesis, 'Assessing the Theistic Implications of Big Bang Cosmological Theory.'
Hussain, who was a Spring 2003 Soros Fellow, says in his biography that he "finds his heritage central to his identity as a Muslim American and his career goals, especially in light of events in recent history."
He adds that the "study of international affairs, law, and security can form a salient combination for addressing many contemporary legal and public policy issues."
During the 2004 conference of the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada [Images] in Chicago, Hussain, then a law student at Yale, argued that the arrest of University of Florida [Images] professor Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian, was a 'politically motivated persecution'. He asserted that such persecution had to be fought "through hope, faith, and the Muslim vote."
He said that Arian, had been 'used politically to squash dissent,' and exhorted the American Muslim community to speak out against the civil rights violations and discrimination taking place in the aftermath of 9/11, and warned that if they didn't do so, everyone's rights would be in jeopardy.
In 2004, he also wrote a major article in The Yale Law Journal, arguing that "much of the debate regarding post-September 11 counterterrorism initiatives has centered on the potentially damaging effects of these policies on constitutionally protected rights."
He wrote, "The war on terrorism relies largely on sensitive intelligence and covert operations." So the Bush administration's so-called "victories often remain undisclosed, yet such assessments will be crucial in defining the future direction of US policy."
Subodh Chandra, former Cleveland law director and an Yale alumni, told rediff.com that he didn't know Hussain personally, but hailed his appointment.
"It should be no surprise to anyone at this point that President Obama is determined to reach out to all communities, including the Indian American community, for top flight talent," Chandra, a leading supporter and fund-raiser for the Obama presidential campaign said. "It's a new day for America," he declared.
Kaleem Kawaja, a senior engineer with NASA [Images] and president of the Association of Indian Muslims of America, told rediff.com, "Most Indian Americans and Indian Muslims are delighted about the appointment of a second generation Indian American Muslim."
"Our Association of Indian Muslims of America wishes to convey our heartfelt congratulations to this distinguished young lawyer of Indian origin upon receiving this recognition of a prestigious appointment at such a young age," he said.
Kawaja said, "Indeed, we are very happy to see that true to the campaign promises, President Obama is giving high-level responsibility to a diverse set of Americans, many of them children of immigrants."
"We are optimistic that soon, more Indian Americans will receive senior level appointments in the government that will enable them to make policies for the US government at the highest level," he added.
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