A good pick. I remember from my days in New York legal circles that Mukasey was highly esteemed and, more specifically, that he was rumored to have an unusually heavy security detail that shadowed him wherever he went. Why the security? Andy McCarthy, another New York lawyer who calls Mukasey “peerless” as a trial judge, explains:
I had the privilege of appearing before Judge Mukasey for nearly three years, from 1993 into 1996, when, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, I led the prosecution of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven other jihadists who had waged a terrorist war against the United States — bombing the World Trade Center, plotting to strike other New York City landmarks (including the United Nations complex, the FBI’s lower Manhattan headquarters, U.S. military installations, and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels), and conspiring political assassinations against American and foreign leaders…
In his final years on the bench before returning to private practice, he was the Southern District’s chief judge, putting his stamp on the court — especially in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Through the sheer force of his persistence and his sense of duty, the court quickly reopened for business despite being just a few blocks away from the carnage. Indeed, it never really closed — Judge Mukasey personally traveled to other venues in the District to ensure that the court’s vital processes were available to the countless federal, state and local officials who were working round the clock to investigate and prevent a reprise of the suicide hijackings…
At this moment in time, the nation would be best served by an attorney general who would bring the department instant credibility with the courts and Congress, provide a needed shot in the arm for prosecutors craving a reminder of the department’s proud traditions, and reassure the public of the administration’s commitment to the department’s high standards. There are precious few people who fit that bill, and of them, Michael Mukasey may be the least well known nationally. But he is as solid as they come.
If you don’t know the name “Omar Abdel Rahman” you certainly know the face. Kate O’Beirne and Matt Lewis at Townhall are bummed that Bush didn’t pick a movement conservative like Ted Olson, another supremely qualified nominee who would have prompted a confirmation battle, but with less than 18 months left in Bush’s term, if you can get the same caliber of AG without yet another political bloodbath, why not do it at this point? The Democrats are looking to throw some red meat to the nutroots after losing the Iraq battle anyway; borking Olson would have fit the bill.
The White House wants him confirmed by October 8. Time anticipates some grumbling among social cons over a few Mukasey rulings, including a denial of asylum to a Chinese woman who was forced to have an abortion, but Fox says they already signed off on him in conference calls yesterday — Chuck Schumer’s high praise for the judge notwithstanding.
Update: More from WaPo:
Some of Mukasey’s public pronouncements have pleased conservatives. During one 2004 speech, excerpts of which were published by the Wall Street Journal, Mukasey strongly defended the controversial USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law and said its “Orwellian name . . . may very well be the worst thing about the statute.”
He also scoffed at complaints from librarians and others that the statute gave the government too much power to spy on ordinary Americans, arguing that the allegations were not supported by evidence.
Mukasey, who was Manhattan’s chief federal judge at the time, also defended a wave of terrorism-related immigration arrests by the FBI after the Sept. 11 attacks. “We should keep in mind that any investigation conducted by fallible human beings in the aftermath of an attack is bound to be either over-inclusive or under-inclusive,” Mukasey said. “There are consequences both ways. The consequences of over-inclusiveness include condemnations. The consequences of under-inclusiveness include condolences.”
To anyone mourning Olson being bypassed, chin up. Like Olson, Mukasey is a Giuliani supporter. And if, against all odds, Rudy’s elected next year, Olson would be a safe bet for either AG or the Supreme Court. Or both.
Update: Here’s the left’s angle of attack but without Schumer onboard it won’t work.
Update: Admittedly, this does not inspire confidence.