Michael B. Mukasey was nominated September 17, 2007, by President George W. Bush to be Attorney General of the United States. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 8, 2007, to replace Alberto R. Gonzales, who resigned August 27, 2007.
Mukasey, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 to the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York, "presided over the trial of the terrorist known as 'the Blind Sheikh,' and his co-defendants in the conspiracy to destroy prominent New York City landmarks, including bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993."
- 1 Positions and record
- 1.1 Federal judgeship
- 1.2 Close ties to Giuliani
- 1.3 Mukasey's involvement with tobacco
- 2 Mukasey's nomination for Attorney General
- 3 Resources
Positions and record
Mukasey was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a judge for the U.S. District Court in Manhattan and served on the bench from 1987 - 2006. He was chief judge from 2000 - 2006. He presided over the trial and conviction of 10 militant Muslims who for plotting to blow up the United Nations building and other New York City landmarks in 1995.
Allowed detention of U.S. citizen without criminal charges
Mukasey was the first judge to rule on the case of Jose Padilla after his arrest. The government accused Padilla researching a scheme to build a "dirty bomb" (a conventional explosive that spreads radioactive matter) in Pakistan and then stealing radioactive material in the U.S. to build it. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that the government's primary interest in detaining Padilla was to gain information to prevent terrorist attacks.
- Mukasey allowed detention of U.S. citizens detained on U.S. soil without criminal charges: The federal government, Mukasey ruled, was "authorized under the Constitution and by law to direct the military and detain enemy combatants." This included, Mukasey said, "the power to detain unlawful combatants" without criminal charges and that it "matters not that Padilla is a United States citizen captured on United States soil." Mukasey said it did not matter that in the "conflict" in question, the "courts are functioning," there was no declaration of war (with Afghanistan) or that, as Padilla's attorney's said, the "current conflict with al Qaeda... can have no clear end." "A formal declaration of war is not necessary in order for the executive to exercise its constitutional authority to prosecute an armed conflict - particularly when, as on September 11, the United States is attacked," Mukasey ruled. The government's case was also bolstered, Mukasey wrote, by the congressional joint resolution authorizing the president to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to in response to the September 11th attacks and by the USA Patriot Act.
- Mukasey said he would review the government's evidence: Mukasey did say that he would review the government's evidence for the president's finding that he was an "enemy combatant." The only public evidence offered by the government was one unclassified statement by a Defense Department official, Michael Mobbs, that Padilla had travelled to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and had met with al Qaeda's former chief of operations Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in Pakistan earlier in 2002. The statement was the basis of President Bush's finding that Padilla was an enemy combatant.
- Mukasey allowed Padilla to meet with his attorneys: Mukasey granted a motion by the defense to allow Padilla to meet with his attorneys. The federal government had barred any communication between Padilla and anyone, including his lawyers, since that June.
- Mukasey had allowed widespread use of "material witness" detentions: Padilla was first detained on May 8, 2002, on a "material witness" warrant signed by Mukasey. Mukasey had earlier made a ruling that the unprecedentedly widespread use of the warrants in the wake of the September 11th attacks was constitutional.
Support for torture policies
As a judge, in October 2001 Mukasey "dismissed concerns by a 21-year old Jordanian immigrant that he had been beaten while in U.S. custody, leaving bruises that were hidden beneath his orange prison jumpsuit." "'As far as the claim that he was beaten, I will tell you that he looks fine to me,' said Judge Mukasey."
Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reported in the October 1, 2007, issue that three sources said that Mukasey, in "a series of private meetings arranged by chief of staff Josh Bolten prior to the nomination... reassured top [ conservative ] hard-liners, such as Federalist Society executive Leonard Leo and former A.G. Edwin Meese" that he supported Bush administration's War on Terror policies:
"Mukasey said that he saw 'significant problems' with shutting down Guantánamo Bay and that he understood the need for the CIA to use some 'enhanced' interrogation techniques against Qaeda suspects. Mukasey also signaled reluctance with naming a special prosecutor to investigate Bush-administration misconduct, according to one participant."
"Terror trials hurt the nation even when they lead to convictions."
In an August 22, 2007, Wall Street Journal op-ed, Mukasey "argues that 'Terror trials hurt the nation even when they lead to convictions'," ArgusRun wrote in The Daily Kos. "Not because they involve detainees who have been tortured or mistreated, or secret information not available to the defense. No, this respected jurist does not care about the damage done to the rule of law or our constitutional protections. Rather, he is terrified that the trials give valuable information to the terrorists."
"Mukasey is obviously just what the Justice Department needs to restore Americans' confidence in their legal system: A judge who does not have confidence in our legal system," Argus Run commented.
Defended Patriot Act
In a 2004 speech, Mukasey defended the USA PATRIOT Act:
"I think one would have to concede that the USA Patriot Act has an awkward, even Orwellian, name, which is one of those Washington acronyms derived by calling the law 'Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Interrupt and Obstruct Terrorism.' You get the impression they started with the acronym first, and then offered a $50 savings bond to whoever could come up with a name to fit. Without offering my view on any case or controversy, current or future, I think that that awkward name may very well be the worst thing about the statute."
Close ties to Giuliani
Defense of Giuliani's tough tactics used in Mafia trials
Michael Mukasey was "an assistant U.S. attorney and head of the official corruption unit" when Rudolph W. Giuliani was U.S. Attorney in New York. "To prepare for trials, Giuliani practiced his cross-examinations on Mukasey, who would portray the witness."
In 1985, when Mukasey was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Giuliani "was coming under intense criticism for his aggressive tactics in prosecuting organized crime, including his use of mass trials, his habit of holding defendants without bail and his practice of subpoenaing defense lawyers to testify at their clients' grand jury hearings, which lawyers argued was a violation of client confidentiality.
"Springing to Giuliani's defense was a former colleague, Michael B. Mukasey, who argued in a strongly worded opinion piece that Giuliani's tough tactics were justified to defeat an enemy that, he said, was far more dangerous and powerful than Giuliani's critics were willing to acknowledge," Alec MacGillis reported September 18, 2007, in the Washington Post.
Swore Giuliani in as NYC Mayor
"When Giuliani was elected mayor of New York in 1993 and 1997, Judge Mukasey presided at his friend's swearing-in. In fact, one of the ceremonies was held at Mukasey's own Manhattan apartment."
Mukasey and son affiliated with Giuliani campaign
Son in Giuliani's Firm which defends Verizon; Possible Conflict of Interest on FISA
Marc Mukasey is a partner in Giuliani's law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani (as of November 2007). According to the Village Voice, October 30th 2007 "Verizon is a prime client of Bracewell & Giuliani". This has also been mentioned on Keith Olbermann's Countdown 
Political campaign donations
In 2007, Mukasey has made political campaign donations to only one candidate: Rudy Giuliani.
Mukasey's involvement with tobacco
On April 8, 1996, "U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey reversed his earlier dismissal of a suit brought against Philip Morris Companies, Inc. by disgruntled stockholders. Plaintiffs produced new evidence concerning the cigarette manufacturer's knowledge of nicotine's addictive properties to persuade Mukasey to issue the new Opinion and Order."
According to a motion filed in the above mentioned shareholder suits arguing that Judge Mukasey should recuse himself from the case, "In a status conference on May 9, 1994, the Honorable Michael B . Mukasey informed plaintiffs' and defendants' counsel that in his previous work as a private attorney he represented tobacco companies in defense of smoker litigation."
Mukasey's nomination for Attorney General
Refusal to condemn waterboarding
In response to a question from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) of whether waterboarding was constitutional, Mukasey answered, ""If waterboarding is torture... torture is not Constitutional." When pressed on whether waterboarding was torture, Mukasey only answered, "If it amounts to torture, then it is not Constitutional." (video)
Schumer and Feinstein finally showed support for Mukasey
Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced on November 2, 2007, that they decided to side with the White House in voting to send the nomination of Mukasey as attorney general to the Senate floor. “I believe that Judge Mukasey is the best we will get and voting him down would only perpetuate acting and recess appointments, allowing the administration to avoid the transparency that confirmation hearings provide and diminish effective oversight by Congress,” said Feinstein. While Schumer was torn on the nomination after recommending Mukasey, five committee Democrats, including all four senators seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and other Democrats, due to his stand on a waterboarding ban, put Mukasey’s nomination in jeopardy. But with the support of Schumer and Feinstein, along with the nine Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, Mukasey will more than likely have enough votes for his nomination to be sent to the floor as well as backing for confirmation. 
Nomination approved by Senate
With the approval of six democrats, one independent, and a united Republican caucus, the senate confirmed Michael Mukasey as attorney general with a 53-40 vote. A hot-button issue in determining this vote, which was predicted to endure a filibuster or a delay till Thanksgiving recess, was the waterboarding issue and whether or not Mukasey thought that it constitutes illegal torture under U.S. laws. Many questioned his capabilities as the attorney general if he could not come up with a clear legal answer for this issue. However, he argued that he had not been briefed on the specifics of CIA interrogation techniques. “After the longest confirmation process in nearly 20 years, the Senate has finally voted to confirm Judge Mukasey as attorney general,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Senate GOP Conference. “The Department of Justice has a vital role to play in the war against Islamic terrorists, and it is critically important that it have a leader who can ensure that it fulfills its mission. Judge Mukasey is this kind of leader.” 
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- Paul Kiel, "Is Waterboarding Torture? Mukasey: Yes, if It's Torture," TPMMuckraker.com, Oct. 18, 2007.
- Manu Raju, "Schumer and Feinstein to side with White House on Mukasey," The Hill, November 2, 2007.
- Manu Raju, "Senate approves Mukasey nomination," The Hill, November 9, 2007.
- News Release: Fact Sheet: "Michael Mukasey: A Strong Attorney General," Office of the White House Press Secretary, September 17, 2007.
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- Edward W. Miller, "A Political Prisoner In the U.S.: Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman," The Coastal Post, March 1997.
- Jerry Markon, "Elderly judges handle 20 percent of United States caseload," San Francisco Chronicle (GlobalAging.org), October 8, 2001.
- Harvey A. Silverglate, "When the ‘enemy’ is us. The president and the military want to strip US citizens deemed ‘enemy combatants’ of their rights. Will the federal courts stop them?" The Boston Phoenix, February 6-13, 2003.
- Laura Rozen, War and Piece Blog, June 25, 2007.
- Andrew C. McCarthy, "Judge Mukasey Would Make a Stellar Attorney General. A gifted former prosecutor and renowned jurist could be just the right fit," National Review Online, September 11, 2007.
- William Kristol, "Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General... And conservatives should be happy," The Weekly Standard, September 15, 2007.
- Libby Quaid, "Giuliani Has Conservative Ally in Olson," Associated Press, September 15, 2007.
- Mike Allen, "Bush plans to pick Mukasey for A.G.," The Politico, September 16, 2007.
- Bernard Hibbitts, "Bush nominating retired judge Mukasey as attorney general: reports," Jurist, September 16, 2007.
- "WH's furious attempt to sell Mukasey to conservatives," Think Progress, September 17, 2007.
- FACTBOX: Facts on Mukasey, Reuters, September 17, 2007.
- Profile: Michael Mukasey, BBC News, September 17, 2007.
- Carrie Budoff Brown, "W.H. asks for quick Mukasey confirmation," The Politico, September 17, 2007.
- Devlin Barrett, "Mukasey Has Long Terror Resume," Associated Press, September 17, 2007.
- Jan Crawford Greenburg and Ariane de Vogue, "Bush Taps Retired N.Y. Judge for Attorney General Post. Judge Michael Mukasey, Close Ally of Giuliani, Seen as Consensus Choice," ABC News, September 17, 2007.
- Editorial: "Nomination Preemption. President Bush may choose a new attorney general for his ability to avoid a confirmation fight," Washington Post, September 17, 2007.
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Philip Shenon, "Bush Names Choice for Successor to Gonzales," New York Times, September 17, 2007.
- "Even backers of U.S. attorney general candidate want proof he'll be independent," The Canadian Press, September 17, 2007.
- Ruth Marcus, "Mukasey at the Bat," Washington Post, September 17, 2007.
- Martin Kady II, "Bush AG nomination may face little fight," The Politico, September 17, 2007.
- Massimo Calabresi, "How Bush's AG Pick Irritates the Right," TIME Magazine, September 17, 2007.
- Marc Ambinder, "The White House Does Not Care About Pissing Off Conservatives," TheAtlantic.com, September 17, 2007.
- Steve Benen, "And the next Attorney General is…," The Carpetbagger Report, September 17, 2007.
- Paul Kiel, "Today's Must Read," TPMmuckraker, September 17, 2007.
- Matt Corley, "Right Wing ‘Deflated,’ Concerned Over Bush’s Attorney General Nominee," Think Progress, September 17, 2007.
- Michelle Malkin, "Who's Michael Mukasey?" MichelleMalkin.com, September 17, 2007.
- Sasha Issenberg, "Democrats tentatively welcome Mukasey. Retired US judge largely unknown on Capitol Hill," Boston Globe, September 18, 2007.
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- Amy Goldstein and Dafna Linzer, "A Conservative Record, But Not in Lock Step," Washington Post, September 18, 2007.
- Michael Abramowitz and Dan Eggen, "With Justice Pick, Bush Hopes to Avoid a Fight," Washington Post, September 18, 2007.
- Sheryl Gay Stohlberg and David M. Herszenhorn, "Democrats Use Confirmation to Press Bush," New York Times, September 18, 2007.
- James Rowley, "Bush Blunts Democrats' Appetite for Battle With Mukasey Choice," Bloomberg News, September 18, 2007.
- "The Mukasey Nomination," Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2007.
- Paul Kiel, "Mukasey Makes His Case," TPMmuckraker, September 24, 2007.
- Paul Kiel, "Leahy to Mukasey: Can We Get Along?" TPMmuckraker, October 3, 2007.
- Jane Roh, "CIA Interrogations To Take Center Stage In Mukasey Hearings," The Gate Blog/National Journal, October 4, 2007.
- Paul Kiel, "Leahy Sets Confirmation Hearings for Mukasey," TPMmuckraker, October 10, 2007.
- Paul Kiel, "Leahy on Mukasey: 'I Like Him'," TPMmuckraker, October 16, 2007.
- October 17, 2007: Live-blogging Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing
- "Mukasey's Testimony. Opening Statement of Judge Michael Mukasey before the Senate Judiciary Committee," Wall Street Journal Online, October 17, 2007.
- Jane Roh, "Liveblogging The Michael Mukasey Confirmation Hearing", The Gate Blog/National Journal: Part I; and Part II.
- Glenn Greenwald, Opinion: "Live-blogging the Mukasey confirmation hearing," Salon, October 17, 2007.
- Paul Kiel, TPMmuckraker, October 17, 2007:
- Spencer Ackerman, TPMmuckraker, October 17, 2007:
- Satyam Khanna, Think Progress, October 17, 2007:
- John Bresnahan, "Mukasey Says 'protecting Civil Liberties ... A Part Of Protecting National Security'" and "Mukasey hearings anticlimactic at best," The Politico, October 17, 2007.
- Andrew Sullivan, "Mukasey, Durbin and the Right," The Atlantic, October 17, 2007.
- Steve Benen, "Mukasey rejects Bybee memo, compares U.S. torture to Nazi tactics," The Carpetbagger Report, October 17, 2007.
- October 18, 2007: Live-blogging Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing
- "Mukasey Refuses To Call Waterboarding ‘Torture’," Think Progress, October 18, 2007.
- Laurie Kellman, "AG Candidate Against Media Shield," Associated Press, October 18, 2007.
- Paul Kiel, TPMmuckraker, October 18, 2007:
- Spencer Ackerman, TPMmuckraker, October 18, 2007:
- Benjamin Davis, "Mukasey on Torture: Of Sins, Mistakes and Crimes," Jurist Forum, October 18, 2007.
- Andrew Sullivan, "Mukasey The Day After," The Atlantic, October 18, 2007.
- Jacob Sullum, "The Gap in Mukasey's Testimony," Reason Magazine/Hit 'n Run Blog, October 18, 2007.