September 20, 2007
Bush picks Orthodox Mukasey for Attorney General
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Upon joining the Justice Department as an assistant U.S. attorney 35 years ago, he said, "Our foreign adversaries saw widespread devastation as a deterrent; today our fanatical enemies see it as a divine fulfillment."
The focus concerned Stern, who noted that the Justice Department's bailiwick is much broader than terrorism.
"He's a cipher on abortion, he's a cipher on civil rights, he's a cipher on all the hot-button issues that move the administration's base," Stern said.
That led the AJCongress to call for a rigorous confirmation process.
"President Bush has selected an individual who appears to be beyond ethical reproach and who is not narrowly partisan," the group said in a statement. "Michael Mukasey also appears to be free of the thrall of social conservatives. But though on all three scores he would be a marked improvement over the incumbent, his confirmation should not be a formality."
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a key member of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, has already joined the committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), in promising an expansive confirmation.
Still, Mukasey is likely to get the job -- he was one of four candidates Schumer recommended to the White House, and has not irked Democrats as Gonzales had through his department's prosecutions of voter fraud cases that seemed to target close races involving Democrats -- and that fell apart more often than not.
"It is gratifying that the White House didn't go for a nominee that they knew in advance would be controversial," said Sammie Moshenberg, the director of the National Council of Jewish Women's Washington office.
For Halberstam, Mukasey is the perfect pick.
"His chambers really depict who he is -- clean, immaculate. You would never see even a [speck of] dust anywhere around. It was the most immaculate office. That is the kind of a person he is. He's an immaculate human being," she said.
"I don't think there was anybody in this country, certainly back then, who was so really on the mark on issues of terrorism. He was the most unique person. I think he understood it better than anybody."
Staff writer Ben Harris in New York contributed to this report.
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