WASHINGTON -- The United States has a new attorney general Friday morning. The Senate confirmed Michael Mukasey late last Thursday. He takes over the justice department from Alberto Gonzales. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said, "Judge Mukasey has shown that he will be a strong and independent attorney general. He could not be more different than Alberto Gonzales." Sen. Feinstein was one of six democrats to confirm retired federal judge Michael Mukasey by a vote of 53 to 40. Debate ignited when Mukasey refused to say whether waterboarding -- an interrogation technique that simulates drowning -- is torture. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said, "We cannot afford to take our chances on an attorney general who doesn't know torture when he sees it or is willing to look the other way to suit the president." But Mukasey won favor by promising to issue an opinion on waterboarding if confirmed. In a letter he called it repugnant. On October 17, 2007 Mukasey said, "Torture is unlawful under the laws of this country." For many the choice was whether to confirm Mukasey or leave the country without key leadership at the justice department. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, "Anyone who thinks that should judge Mukasey be rejected, that things will improve from the desperate and deplorable state in which they are now, is wrong." Attorney General Mukasey has work to do. He takes over a department where nine top officials resigned and morale is low after the controversial firings of eight attorneys by his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales.
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