Michael Mukasey: A Strong Attorney General
President Bush Nominates Former Federal Judge With Exemplary Background In Law Enforcement
And Issues Of National Security Law To Serve As U.S. Attorney General
Today, President Bush Will Announce His Intention To Nominate Michael B. Mukasey To Serve As America’s 81st Attorney General. Judge Mukasey – nominated to the Federal bench by President Reagan in 1987 – will bring to this position a lifetime of legal experience and over 18 years of service as a Federal judge. While on the Federal bench, Judge Mukasey received praise for his thoughtful and fair handling of some of the Nation’s most important and complicated terrorism-related cases, including the trial of 10 defendants accused of plotting terrorist attacks in New York City and Jose Padilla’s challenge to his detention as an enemy combatant.
Judge Mukasey’s Record Of Rulings 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 Over 18 Years. Judge Mukasey was a strong leader during his six years as Chief Judge of this court, one of the country’s most important and prestigious Federal district courts. His distinctive 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.
Ø 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” Involved In Planning The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Judge Mukasey sentenced Rahman and another man, El Sayyid Nosair, to life in prison, a decision that required him to keep armed guards with him for protection.
Ø 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 without charging him for a crime. Judge Mukasey also granted a defense motion to allow Mr. Padilla to meet with his attorneys.
Ø A Former Prosecutor, Judge Mukasey Served For Four Years (1972-76) As An Assistant United States Attorney For The Prestigious And Demanding Southern District Of New York Office. 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 Keen And Independent Interest In National Security And Terrorism Issues
In A Recent Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Judge Mukasey Argued Jose Padilla’s “Case Shows Why Current Institutions And Statutes Are Not Well Suited To” The Effort To Combat Terrorism. “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 Commending 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)
Commentary On Michael 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.”
Judge Mukasey’s Career Is Marked By Other Valuable Experiences That Will Serve Him And Our Nation Well If He Is Confirmed As Attorney General
From 1976-87, Judge Mukasey Worked At The Law Firm Of Patterson, Belknap, Webb, And Tyler In New York City. Judge Mukasey returned to his position as a partner at Patterson Belknap following his retirement from the bench in 2006.
Judge Mukasey Received His Undergraduate Degree From Columbia University In 1963 And His Law Degree From Yale University In 1967.
Judge Mukasey Brings To The Position Of Attorney General A Fresh Perspective And A Non-Political Background.