Earlier this morning the president introduced Michael Mukasey to be the 81st attorney general of the United States. Mukasey, a retired federal judge and former U.S. attorney from the Southern District of New York, has been lauded by Republicans and Democrats alike as a fair-minded and “tough as nails” jurist. 

Judge Mukasey presided over the trial of 10 terrorists involved with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as the hearing of Jose Padilla when the latter challenged his detention as an enemy combatant. Commenting on the Padilla case, Judge Mukasey recently noted in The Wall Street Journal that: "The history of Padilla's case helps illustrate in miniature the inadequacy of the current approach to terrorism prosecutions.

…[S]uch prosecutions risk disclosure to our enemies of methods and sources of intelligence that can then be neutralized. Disclosure not only puts our secrets at risk, but also discourages allies abroad from sharing information with us lest it wind up in hostile hands. And third, consider the distortions that arise from applying to national security cases generally the rules that apply to ordinary criminal cases." (Michael B. Mukasey, op-ed, "Jose Padilla Makes Bad Law," The Wall Street Journal, 8/22/07)

As Attorney General Alberto Gonzales formally departs the Department of Justice today, America needs a strong attorney general well-versed in the law as well as the challenges we face as a nation in the War on Terrorism — President Bush has found the perfect candidate in Judge Michael Mukasey. With the remaining 16 months in office, the president deserves a swift vote in the Senate to confirm his nominee and allow Judge Mukasey to go to work to protect us all as the next attorney general.

Congress should put aside partisan differences and work together in a bipartisan manner to consider the nomination of Judge Mukasey as soon as possible. I know the judge will be on the Hill tomorrow to meet with senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Their constitutional responsibility to offer advice and consent on the president’s nomination could not be more serious or important to America now that we are at a time of war.

Partisan sniping or delaying the vote on the nominee to score political points serves no purpose other than to delay — a delay that is both dangerous an unnecessary with our country at war. President Clinton’s nomination of Janet Reno to become attorney general was wrapped up in just 13 days. Given the stakes and the stellar qualifications of Judge Michael Mukasey, the Senate should wrap up its hearings and vote on Mukasey’s nomination by the Columbus Day District Period just weeks away. This is a unique opportunity in time for the president, the Congress and the Department of Justice to have a fresh start and work together to protect the American people in these difficult times. The president has done his part by reaching out to the Congress with an excellent nominee to lead the Department of Justice — it is time for the Senate to respond in kind and swiftly approve the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to be the 81st attorney general of the United States.