[JURIST] President Bush has decided to nominate retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey [PBWT profile; New York Sun profile] as the next US attorney general succeeding the resigned Alberto Gonzales and will formally announce his pick Monday, according to administration and Republican Party sources cited in media reports late Sunday. Mukasey, 66, who retired from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in 2006 after 18 years - the last six of them as Chief Judge - recently rejoined [press release] his former firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler [firm website] in Manhattan. He is seen as a likely reconciliatory nominee who could receive approval from Senate Democrats; in 2003 New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer put his name forward for appointment to the US Supreme Court.
Mukasey has presided over a variety of high-profile cases, including the terrorism trial of Omar Abdel-Rahman [MIPT profile] for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Although generally regarded as strict in national security matters, Mukasey ruled [PDF text] in March of 2003 that US citizen Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive] had to be allowed to meet with counsel despite being classified as an "enemy combatant" [JURIST news archive]. In a recent Wall St. Journal op-ed penned after the Padilla verdict Mukasey said his case illustrated "the inadequacy of the current approach to terrorism prosecutions" and suggested that Congress give "careful scrutiny" to the creation of a "separate national security court staffed by independent, life-tenured judges to deal with the full gamut of national security issues, from intelligence gathering to prosecution." Although well-respected in legal circles Mukasey is not that well-known in Washington and some Justice Department insiders have expressed concern at his lack of managerial experience. AP has more.