President Bush says America's new top law enforcement official will bring clear purpose and resolve to the Justice Department. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush attended the ceremonial swearing-in of Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered the ceremonial swearing-in at the Justice Department's Great Hall. While Mukasey has been in the job since Friday, this was his first chance to speak publicly with his new staff.
"We do law, but the result is justice," said Mr. Mukasey. "And that is why our ultimate client - the people of this country - can and do rest secure in the knowledge that our unswerving allegiance is to the law and the Constitution, and that the result of faithful performance of our duty is justice."
Mukasey pledged to help the Justice Department continue to protect the freedom and security of Americans by guaranteeing civil rights and liberties through what he says is the neutral and even-handed application of the Constitution.
Mukasey replaces former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who stepped down during Congressional investigations into the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program as well as his role in the firing of federal prosecutors, some of whom say they were sacked for political reasons.
Mukasey's Senate confirmation was slowed by his refusal to answer questions about an interrogation technique called waterboarding, that many consider to be torture.
Mukasey told lawmakers that he personally considers waterboarding repugnant but could not say whether it is torture as he had not been briefed on classified information because he was still a private citizen.
Now that he is Attorney General, White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says she does not know if Mukasey has been briefed on interrogation techniques. She says the president will leave it up to Mukasey to decide whether to make clear the Justice Department's opinion of waterboarding as some in Congress are demanding.
At the ceremonial swearing-in, President Bush says the attorney general is vital to detecting, preventing, and disrupting terrorist attacks and must make certain that American intelligence and law enforcement work together.
"He must ensure that we do everything within the law to defend the security of all Americans, while at the same time protecting the liberty of all Americans," said President Bush. "Judge Michael Mukasey is the right man to take on these vital challenges."
Since Mukasey took charge, the Justice Department has reopened an internal investigation into its lawyers' involvement in warrantless surveillance.
That investigation stopped last July when investigators were denied security clearances. A Justice Department spokesman says he can not say when the decision was made to grant those clearances or whether Mukasey was part of it.
President Bush authorized warrantless surveillance following the terrorist attacks of 2001, allowing the National Security Agency to monitor communications between the United States and other nations without court oversight when one of the individuals was thought to be associated with al-Qaida terrorists.
During his confirmation hearings, Mukasey said there may be occasions when the president's powers as commander in chief supersede federal laws requiring the approval of a special court to intercept communications.