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Fact Sheet: Michael Mukasey: A Strong Attorney General

November 09, 2007

Senate Confirms Judge Michael Mukasey As United States Attorney General

"I thank the Senate for its bipartisan vote confirming Judge Michael Mukasey as the Nation's 81st Attorney General. Judge Mukasey is a man of strong character and integrity, with exceptional legal judgment. He was an accomplished prosecutor and, for more than 18 years, a distinguished Federal judge. Now he will be an outstanding Attorney General. Judge Mukasey's confirmation comes at a critical moment for the Justice Department and for our Nation. As Attorney General, Judge Mukasey will lead the Justice Department as it works to protect the American people – whether from drug traffickers and other criminals on our streets or from terrorists who seek to attack our homeland. Now that Judge Mukasey has been confirmed, I look forward to working with the Senate to fill the other senior leadership positions at the Justice Department so that America has the strongest, most capable national security team during this time of war."

– President George W. Bush, 11/8/07

Judge Mukasey's Record In National Security Cases And Experience As A Criminal Prosecutor Make Him Exceptionally Qualified To Serve As Our Nation's Chief Law Enforcement Officer

Judge Mukasey was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, a position he held for more than 18 years. Judge Mukasey was a strong leader during his six years as Chief Judge of this court. His service earned him the Federal Bar Council's Learned Hand Medal for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence in 2004 and an honorary degree from Brooklyn Law School in 2002.

  • Judge Mukasey presided over the 1995 trial of 10 individuals accused of plotting terrorist attacks in New York City – including Omar Abdel Rahman, the "Blind Sheikh," who was involved in planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Judge Mukasey sentenced Rahman and another man, El Sayyid Nosair, to life in prison.

  • Judge Mukasey issued the first ruling on Jose Padilla's challenge to his detention as an enemy combatant. He found that the Government had the right to hold Mr. Padilla as an enemy combatant. Judge Mukasey also granted a defense motion to allow Mr. Padilla to meet with his attorneys.

  • A former prosecutor, Judge Mukasey served for four years (1972-76) as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. While in the United States Attorney's office, Judge Mukasey demonstrated strong leadership and management skills as the Chief of the Official Corruption Unit.

Judge Mukasey Has Demonstrated A Profound Understanding Of National Security And Terrorism Issues

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Judge Mukasey argued that Jose Padilla's criminal prosecution shows that we need to think hard about the best way to hold terrorists accountable. "The history of Padilla's case helps illustrate in miniature the inadequacy of the current approach to terrorism prosecutions. …[S]uch prosecutions risk disclosure to our enemies of methods and sources of intelligence that can then be neutralized. Disclosure not only puts our secrets at risk, but also discourages allies abroad from sharing information with us lest it wind up in hostile hands. And third, consider the distortions that arise from applying to national security cases generally the rules that apply to ordinary criminal cases." (Michael B. Mukasey, Op-Ed, "Jose Padilla Makes Bad Law," The Wall Street Journal, 8/22/07)

In 2004, Judge Mukasey wrote an op-ed supporting the USA PATRIOT Act and encouraging opponents to avoid "reflexive" or "recreational" criticisms. "I think most people would have been surprised and somewhat dismayed to learn that before the Patriot Act was passed, an FBI agent could apply to a court for a roving wiretap if a drug dealer switched cell phones, as they often do, but not if an identified agent of a foreign terrorist organization did; and could apply for a wiretap to investigate illegal sports betting, but not to investigate a potentially catastrophic computer hacking attack, the killing of U.S. nationals abroad, or the giving of material support to a terrorist organization. Violations like those simply were not on the list of offenses for which wiretaps could be authorized." (Michael B. Mukasey, Op-Ed, "The Spirit Of Liberty," The Wall Street Journal, 5/10/04)

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: "An Excellent Lawyer And A Man Of Integrity"

The Washington Post: "Mr. Mukasey is clearly well qualified and displays a breadth of knowledge and a deep-seated sense of integrity..." (Editorial, "Mr. Mukasey's Answers," The Washington Post, 10/18/07)

  • Judge Mukasey is "widely seen as an independent-minded jurist" with "expertise on national security law." (Michael Abramowitz, "As The Clock Runs Down, Bush Sends In The Pros," The Washington Post, 9/30/07)

The Wall Street Journal: "President Bush has found the right man to be Attorney General in Michael Mukasey." (Editorial, "The Mukasey Nomination," The Wall Street Journal, 9/18/07)

The Washington Times: "He satisfies the needs of this administration and promises to be what the American public needs." (Editorial, "Mukasey For Attorney General," The Washington Times, 9/18/07)

The New York Sun: Judge Mukasey is "one of the finest public servants ever handed up by New York." (Editorial, "Mukasey's Mettle," TheNew York Sun, 10/31/07)

The New York Daily News:"Mukasey is an excellent lawyer and a man of integrity…" (Editorial, "Chuck Stands Tall," New York Daily News, 11/3/07)

Former Federal Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy: Judge Mukasey's "mastery of national security issues [reflects] a unique fitness to lead the Justice Department in this critical moment of our history." (Andrew C. McCarthy, Op-Ed, "Judge Mukasey Would Make A Stellar Attorney General," National Review, 9/11/07)

Former Assistant Attorney General Douglas Kmiec: "Judge Mukasey is superbly qualified to fill the role of the nation's chief law enforcement officer." (Douglas W. Kmiec, Op-Ed, "The Attorney General's Job," The Wall Street Journal, 9/19/07)

American Center for Law and Justice Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow: "[H]is handling of some of the most important cases involving terrorism underscores his respect for the Constitution and the rule of law." (American Center For Law And Justice, "ACLJ Pleased With Nomination Of Former Federal Judge Michael Mukasey As U.S. Attorney General," Press Release, 9/17/07)

Commentary On Judge Mukasey's Record: "An Outstanding Judge"

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman: "His legacy is the manner in which he has administered justice in the cases that have come before him. … In that regard Michael Mukasey is an outstanding judge." (Joseph Goldstein, "As Judge Leaves For Law Firm, His Legacy Is Remembered," The New York Sun, 7/26/06)

New York Lawyer Kenneth Bialkin: "I do feel his return to private practice unfortunately deprives the court system of one of the most outstanding, competent, experienced, tough, and honest judges on the bench." (Joseph Goldstein, "As Judge Leaves For Law Firm, His Legacy Is Remembered," The New York Sun, 7/26/06)

The United States Court of Appeals For the Second Circuit: In affirming the verdicts in the trial of the 10 terrorist defendants who plotted to bomb New York City landmarks and helped plan the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit took the unusual step of commending Judge Mukasey's work, writing: "The trial judge, the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, presided with extraordinary skill and patience, assuring fairness to the prosecution and to each defendant and helpfulness to the jury. His was an outstanding achievement in the face of challenges far beyond those normally endured by a trial judge."

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Michael Mukasey: A Strong Attorney General Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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