Top Air Force Lawyer Had Been Disbarred

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 10, 2006

A top Air Force lawyer who served at the White House and in a senior position in Iraq turns out to have been practicing law for 23 years without a license.

Col. Michael D. Murphy was most recently commander of the Air Force Legal Operations Agency at Bolling Air Force Base in the District.

He was the general counsel for the White House Military Office from December 2001 to January 2003, and from August 2003 to January 2005. In between those tours, he was the legal adviser to the reconstruction effort in Iraq, an Air Force spokesman said.

Murphy later served in 2005 as commandant of the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.

He was relieved of his command at Bolling on Nov. 30 after the Air Force learned that he had been disbarred for professional misconduct in Texas in 1984 but hadn't informed his superiors, according to Air Force Times, an independent newspaper that first reported the action. It said that his status was discovered in the course of an unrelated review.

Murphy could not be reached for comment yesterday. Don Manuszewski, an Air Force spokesman, said that it would be inappropriate to comment because the matter is under investigation.

Murphy's exposure is the second major embarrassment to Air Force lawyers in recent years. In 2005, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Fiscus, then the service's top lawyer, was demoted to colonel and subsequently retired after he was found to be having inappropriate relationships with subordinates.

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