The Catholic University of America


Former U.S. Attorney General Speaks to Federalist Society

Hon. Michael B. Mukasey, the 81st United States Attorney General under President George W. Bush, spoke about the nation’s ongoing war on terrorism at the invitation of Catholic University’s Federalist Society on Feb. 7, 2011.

Mukasy, who served as the nation’s top law enforcement official from Nov. 2007 to Jan. 2009, spent an hour summarizing the history of modern terrorism and America’s legal and judicial responses to it.
Prior to his service as attorney general, Mukasey spent 18 years as a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, six of those years as chief judge. He presided over the criminal prosecution of Omar Abdel Rahman and El Sayyid Nosair, whom he sentenced to life in prison for a plot to blow up the United Nations and other Manhattan landmarks uncovered during an investigation into the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Mukasey said his many years on the federal bench convinced him that some high-profile terrorism cases would be better handled in a new venue.
“There is no reason why Congress couldn’t establish a national security court,” staffed by non-federal circuit judges who are trained to handle sensitive security issues, said Mukasey.
Mukasey, who retired from the bench in 2006 and is currently a partner at the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, was criticized intensely in some quarters during his time as attorney general for his stance on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
He fired back—albeit politely— in his remarks to the Federalist Society, characterizing unnamed officials in the Obama Administration as “strategically myopic” in their understanding of the threat facing America today.
“It will take a struggle within Islam, not wishful thinking, to move adherents away from the path of jihad,” said Mukasey.
Guests for his address in Slowinski courtroom included a congressional hill staffer and a former military intelligence officer, both of who asked Mukasey questions afterward.