The U.S. Department of Justice just announced that Assistant Attorney General David Kris just resigned, effective March 4.

“David Kris led the National Security Division (NSD) with great distinction through a period when the department confronted a number of threats to the nation’s security, and there is no doubt that his tireless work helped keep the American people safe,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “I will miss his leadership.”

“I am grateful for my two years of service as Assistant Attorney General for National Security,” Kris said. “I started my legal career at the Department of Justice, and it has been a tremendous privilege to work with the department’s leadership and the dedicated professionals in the National Security Division.”

As Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Kris helped lead the department’s response to a number of serious threats to the nation, including the attempted bombing of Times Square, the al-Qaeda plot to bomb the New York subway system, the attempted detonation of a bomb onboard an airliner on Christmas Day 2009, and the arrest and prosecution of Mumbai plotter David Headley.

Under Kris’ leadership, the National Security Division also played a pivotal role in the investigation, arrest and swap of Russian illegal agents during the summer of 2010, and prosecuted a number of other significant espionage cases, including Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers, who were caught and prosecuted after decades of spying for the government of Cuba. The division also continued and expanded its enforcement in the areas of export control and counter-proliferation.

During Kris’ tenure, the National Security Division also strengthened its partnerships with the intelligence community and other national security elements, including the Department of Defense and the National Security Council, and advanced significantly in establishing the processes, policies, and procedures necessary to make NSD a highly effective and fully functioning division.

No reason for his departure was given, though Kris did mention his two year tenure; that might explain the March departure, two years after he was confirmed.

DOJ didn’t list it among Kris’ accomplishments, but two other things he is noted for are:

  • Making it clear that the Bush Admin justification for illegal wiretapping — which Holder’s DOJ has never withdrawn — didn’t make any sense
  • Testifying that we probably couldn’t charge material support for terrorism in military commissions

That is, he was willing to admit, on occasion, when DOJ was pushing the limits of its legal authority. Which means he will be missed.