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Bush praises his attorney general nominee

Associated Press
Published November 4, 2007


WASHINGTON - After two Democratic senators agreed to back his attorney general designate, President Bush on Saturday worked to seal the confirmation of Michael Mukasey.

"He is a man of character, and he had been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike for his honesty, intellect, fairness and independence," Bush said following a week of ups and downs in getting Mukasey confirmed amid a debate over waterboarding, which simulates drowning and is widely viewed as torture.

The retired judge has refused to say whether he considers the practice an illegal interrogation technique.

Bush used his weekly radio address to nudge Mukasey's nomination to the finish line, a day after Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., gave him a nod. Their backing virtually assured that the Senate Judiciary Committee would recommend his confirmation to the full Senate when it votes Tuesday.

Leaders in both parties expect Mukasey to get at least 70 votes when the entire Senate votes on whether to confirm him to succeed former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Torture is considered a war crime by the international community, and waterboarding has already been banned by the U.S. military. But CIA interrogators are believed to have used the technique on terror detainees as recently as a few years ago.

Schumer, who met privately with Mukasey on Friday to discuss waterboarding, said he was confident the nominee would enforce any law passed that bans the interrogation practice. Schumer said Mukasey told him that if Congress passes a law banning waterboarding, "the president would have absolutely no legal authority to ignore such a law."

Mukasey has called waterboarding personally offensive.