Michael Mukasey

81st Attorney General of the United States
Michael Mukasey
  • Ruled on noteworthy cases including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
  • Described as “legally excellent and ideologically moderate” by Sen. Chuck Schumer
  • Addresses the intricacies of balancing national security with civil liberties

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Judge Michael Mukasey served as the 81st attorney general of the United States. He oversaw all activities of the Justice Department and advised on critical issues of domestic and international law. As a judge, he also ruled on noteworthy cases like those of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Jose Padilla, and Susan Lindauer. Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Mukasey addresses domestic and international law, politics, terrorism and torture, health care, balancing national security with civil liberties, and other legal issues like the death penalty and tort reform in a surprisingly clever and insightful way. He connects the historical dots for his audience so that they understand the context of the issues he’s addressing, and his use of personal anecdotes will inspire discussion amongst your audience.

Attorney General. In 2007, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested to President Bush that Mukasey would be a good, moderate choice for attorney general. Schumer had previously mentioned Mukasey as a possible nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court and said that Mukasey is “legally excellent, ideologically moderate,” and “has shown a commitment to the rule of law.” Judge Michael Mukasey replaced Alberto Gonzales as the attorney general later that same year. The second Jewish attorney general in U.S. history, Mukasey’s term ended when the Obama administration took office.

Judicial Background. While on the bench, Mukasey handled numerous high-profile terrorism cases, including the trial of Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called “blind sheikh,” El Sayyid Nosair, and the case’s other co-defendants. They were convicted of a wide-ranging conspiracy that included the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and a plot to blow up several New York landmarks. Judge Mukasey also ruled on the case of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who had been detained as an “enemy combatant” due to his alleged involvement in al-Qaeda. Padilla was arrested on a material witness warrant and believed to have returned to the U.S. in order to detonate a high-radiation bomb and to blow up apartment buildings. Mukasey was also the judge on the Susan Lindauer case. Lindauer was a journalist at the U.S. News and World Report who was arrested in 2004 on charges of working as an agent for the Iraqi government. Deemed incompetent to stand trial, she was forcibly administered sedative antipsychotic drugs until Mukasey ruled the forced medication unconstitutional.

Michael Mukasey graduated from Yale Law School in 1967. He practiced law for 20 years in New York City, serving four years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Mukasey as a federal judge for that same district. He served as a judge for 18 years, including tenure as chief judge from 2000 until 2006. In that district, he also worked heavily with Rudy Guiliani.

Post-Attorney General Career. Mukasey taught at Columbia Law School in 1993 and has taught there every spring semester since. He is also a partner at the New York firm Debevoise & Plimpton, where he is a member of the litigation department. Mukasey focuses his practice primarily on internal investigations, independent board reviews, and corporate governance.

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Speaker Video

Judge Michael Mukasey on The Justice System and Terrorism

Balancing National Security and Civil Liberties. During his tenure on the bench, Mukasey earned a reputation as a no-nonsense law-and-order judge, steeped in the intricacies of national security. He ruled on the noteworthy cases of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Jose Padilla (the so-called “dirty bomber”), and Susan Lindauer, all of which dealt with issues surrounding national security, civil liberties, and balancing the two. Mukasey has also written articles and opinions on the Patriot Act which were published in the Wall Street Journal. Having heard many high-profile terrorism cases during his time as a judge, Michal Mukasey is adept at addressing the intricacies of balancing our national security and our civil liberties.

Domestic and International Law. Michael Mukasey has a legal background spanning more than 40 years, including 18 years as a judge in the southern district of New York. As such, he has a vast understanding of the law and legal issues. He can address subjects such as the death penalty, tort reform, and the legal implications of topics like torture, trying terrorists on U.S. soil, the fiscal crisis, prolonged detention, and more.

The Intersection of Politics and Law. Judge Mukasey has seen law in its many arenas and has worked closely with public officials in order to enforce and maintain our current legal system. He can address our current political environment and how it is affecting our view of different legal issues and our choices of what issues to pursue, including topics like health care and the Tea Party’s aim to have every bill in Congress reference its Constitutional provision.

The Strategy and Law behind Our Detention Policy. Due to his vast experience ruling on terrorism cases, Judge Michael Mukasey addresses how we treat the people that we capture in the courses of our investigations and wars. Believing that people are primarily intelligence assets, Mukasey discusses the legal implications of our detention policy and how he believes it could be improved.

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