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Dash, Samuel


DASH, SAMUEL (1925–2004), U.S. attorney. Dash was born in Camden, New Jersey, his parents having emigrated from the Soviet Union. After graduating from Harvard Law School with a J.D. degree cum laude, he taught law at Northwestern University. Admitted to practice law in Illinois (1950) and Pennsylvania (1952), he was trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice (1951–52), and from 1952 to 1956 served in the district attorney's office in Philadelphia, rising from assistant district attorney to first assistant district attorney and ultimately to district attorney. Dash then entered private practice, specializing in criminal trial work. In 1965 he joined the law faculty of Georgetown University, Washington, d.c., and served as professor of law and director of the Institute of Criminal Law and Procedure at the Georgetown University Law Center.

As director of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Endowment Study of Wiretapping and Eavesdropping, in 1956–58 he developed material for his book The Eavesdroppers (1959; with R.E. Knowlton and R.F. Schwartz), a study that covers wiretapping practices, laws, devices, and techniques by law enforcement officers, and the wiretapping practices of big business, labor, and politics. The study helped change wiretapping law in America. Subsequently Dash's book The Intruders: Unreasonable Searches and Seizures from King John to John Ashcroft (2004) criticized the U.S. government's expanded search, seizure, and wiretapping powers following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Dash also published on Readings in Criminal Justice (with Bowman and Pye, 1968).

Dash served, among many other public offices, as director of the International League for the Rights of Man, which has consultative status with the United Nations, as chair of the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section, and as president of the National Association of Defense Lawyers in Criminal Cases. In 1973 Dash was appointed chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee investigating the Watergate scandal. His book Chief Counsel: Inside the Ervin Committee – The Untold Story of Watergate was published in 1976. Dash served in a number of other major inquiries as well. He made headlines while serving as ethics adviser to independent counsel Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater Investigation (1994–1998). He resigned in protest when Starr testified before the House Judiciary Committee to advocate for the impeachment of President Clinton. Dash, who had helped write the independent counsel law, felt that Starr's testimony exceeded his capacity as objective investigator.

As a member of the board of directors for the International League of Human Rights, Dash served on human rights missions to Northern Ireland (to investigate the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident), the Soviet Union, and Chile. In 1985 he was the first American the South African government allowed to visit Nelson Mandela in prison, and he took part in the mediation efforts that ultimately led to Mandela's release.

[Jacob Haberman /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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