Bush nominates ex-judge to become attorney general

President Bush on Monday nominated retired federal judge Michael Mukasey to serve as the nation's next attorney general. The decision ended speculation about who would be tapped to succeed Alberto Gonzales, whose embattled tenure concluded Monday.

Many stakeholders on and off of Capitol Hill were scrambling to review Mukasey's record and could not offer comment by deadline. The White House, however, released a lengthy fact sheet about his position on various issues.

The document referenced a 2004 column where Mukasey lauded the anti-terrorism law known as the USA PATRIOT Act and urged opponents to avoid "recreational" criticisms. The 2001 statute was renewed on Gonzales' watch.

Mukasey, an 18-year veteran of a U.S. district court in New York, presided over the 1995 trial of a gang accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Manhattan. He also issued the first ruling on a challenge by Jose Padilla to his detention as an "enemy combatant."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said Mukasey has a conservative reputation on national security matters, and tended to side with the government when its lawyers asked for sealed records and ex parte communications and asserted claims of presidential power. But he might be less inclined "to adopt the extreme, 'no judicial review' approach" that the Bush administration has taken with respect to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Turley said.

Center for Democracy and Technology President Leslie Harris said Mukasey should be asked whether he promises to provide detailed accounts of surveillance conducted without warrants and whether he can assure lawmakers that he will not sidestep FISA.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was happy that Bush chose not to "replace Alberto Gonzales with another partisan administration insider." The name of former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson had been floated to Democrats' chagrin.

Mukasey has strong credentials and a reputation for independence, Reid said. "A man who spent 18 years on the federal bench surely understands the importance of checks and balances and knows how to say no to the president when he oversteps the Constitution."

In a statement, Reid also cautioned against a rush to judgment, noting that the Senate Judiciary Committee must carefully examine Mukasey's views on an array of legal challenges. Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, who chairs the panel, did not make a statement by deadline.

Ranking Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said at a briefing that the nominee "comes with some recommendations from a wide variety of groups."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., did not issue a statement by press time but ranking Republican Lamar Smith of Texas called Mukasey "an ideal candidate." He brings "a wealth of knowledge," particularly with respect to national security law, Smith said, urging senators to swiftly confirm him.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said one of Mukasey's first tasks would be repairing the relationship between the Justice Department and Congress, and one way to do that "is by turning over the documents we have long sought relating to the NSA surveillance program."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.