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Bush nominates attorney general

world Updated: Sep 17, 2007 23:08 IST

DPA
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US President George W Bush on Monday named retired federal court judge Michael Mukasey as his pick for attorney general.

If approved by the opposition Democrat-controlled Senate, Mukasey would replace Alberto Gonzales in the top job at the US Justice Department.

Gonzalez officially stepped down Friday, though he announced his resignation in August after months of controversies including political motives in the firing of nine US attorneys, the veracity of Gonzeles' testimony to Congress and his work on torture policies as a White House lawyer before becoming attorney general.

Mukasey, 66, presided as a federal judge in New York over several cases with national security implications, including the 1995 trial of 10 defendants in a plot to blow up New York landmarks. The so-called blind sheik, a native Egyptian preacher and Islamic militant icon, Omar Abdel Rahman was among those found guilty by the jury. He was sentenced by Mukasey to life in prison.

Mukasey also issued the first court ruling in a challenge of Bush's holding of illegal combatants after the Sep 11, 2001 attacks. Mukasey ruled that Jose Padilla, a US citizen, could be detained indefinitely without charge, but also granted him the right to speak with a lawyer.

Bush said Mukasey was the ideal candidate to manage the legal side of the war against terrorism.

"The attorney general has an especially vital role to play in a time of war," Bush said in announcing the nomination. "Judge Mukasey brings impressive credentials to this task."

Mukasey, considered a hardline law-and-order judge and an adviser on former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign for 2008, was likely to meet little resistance in the Senate.