After a day of chatting with some very smart lawyers and sampling opinions of conservative scholars and some Republican senators I think Judge Mukasey is as advertised — a highly respected jurist with a conservative yet independent appraoch to national security issues. If Bush’s top priorities are quickly restoring DOJ to full working order, preparing for the fight on FISA reauthorization, and installing a respected figure with excellent administrative skills Judge Mukasey seems to be a fine pick.
I must admit that after speaking to many who know and worked with Judge Mukasey, I found this portion of Thompson’s released statement unwarranted: “Judge Mukasey will need to prove himself an Attorney General with a firm commitment to confronting the global terrorist threat, both here and abroad, while also ensuring the protection of our basic liberties.” (I will put aside for a moment the odd grammar-what part of “global” doesn’t cover “here and abroad” ?). This jurist presided over the first significant international terrorism trial in the U.S. and was widely acclaimed for grappling with just these issues. Moreover, he did so at personal risk to his family and required armed U.S. Marshals to live in his home for years. While we want every appointee to demonstrate he is up to the task, I think it is presumptuous to say he must “prove” his commitment to confronting terrorism. A more gracious and informed statement by Thompson would have been welcome as Judge Mukasey heads into the inevitable ordeal of confirmation.