Michael Mukasey

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Michal B. Mukasey (1941-) is a U.S. lawyer who has been in private practice, a prosecutor, a judge, and United States Attorney General in the George W. Bush Administration, 2007-2009.[1] As Attorney General, he was chief law enforcement official of the United States, supervised the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its law enforcement and United States intelligence community roles, and was responsible for legal opinions for the government through the Office of Legal Counsel.

After the Bush Administration

According to Mukasey and Michael Hayden, former Bush administration Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, former Attorney General, the release of Office of Legal Counsel opinions about interrogation of terror suspects "was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy. Its effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on Sept. 11, 2001..." [2] Hayden and Mukasey made the argument "public disclosure of the OLC opinions, and thus of the techniques themselves, assures that terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the U.S. government could do to extract information from them." That argument is not trivial, and needs to be examined in the overall context of interrogation theory. They said "fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations...Details of these successes, and the methods used to obtain them, were disclosed repeatedly in more than 30 congressional briefings and hearings beginning in 2002, and open to all members of the Intelligence Committees of both Houses of Congress beginning in September 2006. Any protestation of ignorance of those details, particularly by members of those committees, is pretense."[2]

Attorney General

See also: Intelligence interrogation, U.S., review

After his retirement from the court, Judge Mukasey returned to private practice at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler until he was nominated by President George W. Bush to become the Attorney General on September 17, 2007. The Senate subsequently confirmed his nomination on November 8, 2007.

During his tenure, he did start an investigation of possible CIA improprieties by John Durham. [3] It was not clear if policymakers and legal advisers were within the scope of this investigation. He made the point that this assignment was not as a special prosecutor. [4]

U.S. District Court

President Ronald Reagan nominated Michael B. Mukasey to the bench of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and he was confirmed in that position in November 1987. Mr. Mukasey became the chief judge of the court in 2000 and served in that capacity until his retirement from the bench in 2006. During that time, Judge Mukasey presided over hundreds of cases, including the trial of Sheik Omar Rahman and 11 co-defendants charged with conspiring to blow up numerous sites in New York, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Return to private practice

Mr. Mukasey returned to private practice in 1976 as a partner with the New York law firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler and remained in private practice until 1987.

Department of Justice

In 1972, he became assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. In 1975, he became Chief of the Official Corruption Unit of the assistant US attorney’s office.

Early career, awards, education

After graduation from law school, Mr. Mukasey entered private practice with the firm of Webster, Sheffield, Fleischmann, Hitchcock & Brookfield in New York City where he remained until 1972.

Judge Mukasey has received numerous awards including the Learned Hand Medal for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence from the Federal Bar Council and an honorary degree from the Brooklyn Law School.

  • bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1963
  • law degree from Yale University in 1967. (Board of Editors of the Yale Law Journal}