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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - November 08, 2007)


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I rise today to support the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General of the United States. Judge Mukasey is eminently qualified for this position. For almost 20 years he served as U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, presiding over prominent terror trials and gaining familiarity with complex national security issues that continue to challenge our Nation.

Specifically, Judge Mukasey presided over the trial of the ``Blind Sheik,'' who was involved in planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Upon conviction, Judge Mukasey sentenced the terrorist to life in prison. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in affirming the verdict, praised Mukasey by saying: ``The trial judge, the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, presided with extraordinary skill and patience, assuring fairness to the prosecution and to each defendant and helpfulness to the jury. His was an outstanding achievement in the face of challenges far beyond those normally endured by a trial judge.'' Indeed, Judge Mukasey's ruling in the Blind Sheik case presented extraordinary challenges--his ruling drew death threats that required him to receive years of 24-hour armed protection.

Yet Judge Mukasey maintained his objectivity as a judge, ruling years later that while Jose Padilla--a U.S. citizen later convicted of Federal terrorism support charges--could be held by the government as an enemy combatant, he was also entitled to legal counsel. One of Padilla's defense lawyers who said he had ``more cases before Mukasey than I can count,'' praised the judge saying, ``I don't always agree with where he comes out ..... [but] I am always happy to draw him as a judge. You are going to get your day in court.'' Another of Padilla's lawyers said about Judge Mukasey, ``I admire him greatly,'' describing herself as ``another weeping fan.''

Since his nomination, many of Michael Mukasey's colleagues and lawyers who appeared before him have offered statements of praise and support. While it would be impossible to reiterate them all, perhaps former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White's statement best encapsulates the general sentiment. She said that Judge Mukasey ``is a man of great intellect and integrity with an unswerving commitment to the rule of law. He is independent, fair-minded and has a wealth of relevant experience from his years of service on the bench, in the private sector and as an assistant United States attorney in the Southern District of New York.'' I agree that Judge Mukasey's intellect, integrity, and experience make him uniquely qualified to serve as Attorney General.

It is, however, imperative that our Attorney General put his oath to protect and uphold the Constitution before all other loyalties. As such, I looked to Judge Mukasey for assurances that he would put the Constitution first. Judge Mukasey gave the first of such assurances on October 5, 2007, the day that he was nominated, when he said, ``The department faces challenges vastly different from those it faced when I was an assistant U.S. attorney 35 years ago. But the principles that guide the department remain the same--to pursue justice by enforcing the law with unswerving fidelity to the Constitution.'' After studying his record and participating in the confirmation process, I am confident that Judge Mukasey's great respect for the Constitution and the rule of law is sincere.

The Justice Department has undergone difficult times of late, but I know Judge Mukasey has the integrity and intellect to carry out the necessary work to restore the American public's trust in the department. America has been well-served by Judge Mukasey's past public service and is fortunate that such an accomplished individual--who entered retirement just one year ago--is willing to answer the call to public service once again. I thank Judge Mukasey for his continued sacrifice.

I am pleased to vote in favor of Judge Michael Mukasey's nomination to be Attorney General of the United States and look forward to working with him in the future.


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