[JURIST] Former federal judge Michael B. Mukasey [WH profile; JURIST news archive] was sworn in Friday as the 81st attorney general of the United States after a confirmation process fraught with controversy. The US Senate voted 53-40 [JURIST report] late Thursday evening to confirm Mukasey's nomination. The nomination was backed by the Senate Judiciary Committee [JURIST report] earlier this week by an 11-8 vote. Much of the opposition to Mukasey's nomination [JURIST report] has centered on his refusal to unequivocally denounce waterboarding [JURIST news archive] as torture. Mukasey's supporters, however, have praised Mukasey's promises for greater Justice Department independence [JURIST report] from the executive.
Mukasey succeeds former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST news archive] whose resignation [JURIST report] took effect in September. Gonzales resigned from his post after months of controversy over the Justice Department's handling of the firings of eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive] and subsequent allegations that he may have perjured himself [JURIST report] in testimony before Congress.