Attorney General Nominee Made His Name With Terror Cases
By Susan Schmidt and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 11, 2007; A01
. . . Now, Mukasey’s experiences in the Padilla case and other terrorism prosecutions undergird his credentials for nomination to become attorney general. If confirmed by the Senate after hearings next week, the 66-year-old Bronx native will take over an embattled Justice Department. He will deal with Congress on national security issues that remain to be sorted out in the final year of the Bush administration — including rules for interrogating suspects and gathering evidence in terrorism cases.
Mukasey recently argued in an opinion article for the Wall Street Journal that Congress should find new ways to relieve “a strained and mismatched legal system” that cannot adequately stop terrorist plots while guarding the rights of those suspected of hatching them. He has advocated creating national security courts for terrorism cases, where classified information could be presented to judges in secret.
. . . As a judge, Mukasey occasionally regaled his clerks with war stories from the old days. “He loved being an assistant U.S. attorney. I think that’s what defined him,” said a former colleague who agreed to share private recollections of Mukasey’s days on the federal bench.
This guy is a cowboy. He’s bought in to the belief that terror (ours) is sufficient justification for anything the Bushies want, including rendition–which he limits in a Wall Street Journal OpEd piece to ‘the Clinton administration.’
In an atmosphere of suspicion and fear, defense lawyers said they were forbidden from conferring with one another about different clients or discussing their cases publicly. Many still do not have access to transcripts of hearings they attended because they remain sealed at Mukasey’s request.
“The government was pushing the seals, and he was agreeing with the government’s position every time. It’s no secret that he is a pro-government judge,” said a lawyer who represented a number of material witnesses who were later released without charge.
Atmospheres of suspicion and fear emanate from judges, not circumstance.
“He wouldn’t let me show him my client’s injuries, which he got in detention,” Hamud said. “Suspects were shoddily treated. They were in chains and quivering because they were so afraid of the guards, and Mukasey said nothing.”
America’s legal protections are being gutted by the Bush administration, aided and abetted by Alberto Gonzales and (if the Senate approves) the far more intelligent and dangerous Michael Mukasey.