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Bush Taps Former Judge for US Attorney General Post


President Bush has nominated a former federal judge to be U.S. Attorney General in what the White House hopes will be a first step towards ending months of turmoil and partisan rancor surrounding the Justice Department. From the White House, VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

The president's nominee, Michael Mukasey, served for 18 years as a U.S. District Court judge in New York, where he presided over the 1995 trial of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, whom he sentenced to life in prison for involvement in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

Introducing the judge in the Rose Garden, President Bush praised Mukasey as a judge well-versed in national security matters.

"Judge Mukasey is clear-eyed about the threat our nation faces," he said. "As a judge and a lawyer, he has written on matters of constitutional law and national security. He knows what it takes to fight this war [on terrorism] effectively, and he knows how to do it in a manner that is consistent with our laws."

Mr. Bush urged swift Senate confirmation for the 66-year-old Mukasey, a one-time federal prosecutor nominated to the federal bench by former President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Taking the podium after the president, Mukasey noted the new challenges facing America in the post 9/11 era.

"Less than a week ago, we marked a solemn anniversary that reminds us, if we need reminding, of how different those challenges are," he said. "But the task of helping to protect our security, which the Justice Department shares with the rest of our government, is not the only task before us. The Justice Department must also protect the safety of our children, the commerce that ensures our prosperity, and the rights and liberties that define us as a nation."

In his remarks, President Bush paid tribute to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, seen by some as having injected partisan interests into the workings of the Justice Department. Gonzales resigned last month after weathering criticism from Democrats and some prominent Republicans for his opinions granting the president sweeping authority in legal matters pertaining to the war on terror, as well as for the controversial mass-firing of federal prosecutors.

The new nominee has some early backers among Democrats, including New York Senator Charles Schumer, who praised Mukasey's commitment to the rule of law. White House officials say they expect Mukasey will be a good leader who will boost morale at the Justice Department.

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