Attorney General-designate Michael Mukasey said that he intended to strike a balance between providing security and protecting civil liberties. The remarks were part of a statement prepared for his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, scheduled to begin Wednesday.
Mukasey has already won support of leading Democrats demanding that the Justice Department become more independent from the White House. “If the hearings go as well as the interviews have,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., “then he'll be confirmed by a very large majority.”
What the commentators said
Based on "sheer competence," said National Review Online in an editorial, there's no reason to object to Mukasey. Now we'll see whether the Democrats' campaign against Gonzales was "grandstanding," or a sincere effort to find "competent leadership for the Justice Department."
Mukasey certainly shouldn’t be “waved through,” said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). Under former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, federal presecutors launched cases to “help Republican candidates win elections.” Senators need answers on how Mukasey plans to “turn around” such a “shamelessly politicized Justice Department” before they let him take the job.
Only two questions really matter, said Los Angeles Times in an editorial (free registration). “Will Mukasey resist the intrusion of partisan politics into the administration of justice? And does he share the administration's troubling view that the war on terror has rendered traditional restraints on presidential power obsolete?” If the nominee answers wrong, he’s not the right person for the job.
Senators will have to look hard at Mukasey’s record, and ask tough questions, said The Washington Post in an editorial (free registration). As a judge, he let the Bush administration hold alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, as a material witness, but insisted that he be allowed to see a lawyer. Would he strike the balance—between individual rights and the pursuit of terrorists—“the same way as attorney general, or would that balance shift because of the his new role?”