Obama names Indian-American lawyer Preeta Bansal to key post

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : President-elect Barack Obama has appointed a leading Indian-American lawyer Preeta Bansal as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of Management (OMB) and Budget at the White House.

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The announcement Monday on the eve of his taking over as the 44th president of US was an indication of how quickly he wants to get on with the business of tackling the economic crisis by cutting waste and making the government more efficient.

Considered to be part of the Obama’s inner circle, Bansal was earlier mentioned as possible Solicitor General in the Obama Administration.

Bansal is currently Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP in New York City. Since 2003, Bansal has also been a Commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, serving as Chair from 2004-2005.

In that capacity, Bansal participated in US diplomatic missions to Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Vietnam, Turkey, Hong Kong, and South Asia, and presided over a nationally acclaimed Commission study on DHS’s procedures for expedited removal of US asylum seekers.

From 1999-2002, Bansal was Solicitor General of the State of New York, where she helped supervise the legal positions of 600 attorneys in the New York Attorney General’s office.

From 1993-1996, Bansal served as a counsellor in the Office of Policy Development and Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, and as a Special Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel.

Bansal received a J.D., magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and an A.B., magna cum laude from Harvard-Radcliffe College. She was a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court.

She has been a Commissioner on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Election Modernization Task Force and serves on numerous non-profit boards.