Michael Mukasey's confirmation hearings kick off tomorrow, and the focus of senators' questions for the AG nominee is already clear, the Christian Science Monitor reports: Democrats want assurances he’ll be more independent than Alberto Gonzales. Pat Leahy, for one, is looking for agreement that “federal law enforcement should not be compromised by political operatives from the White House.”
Also under scrutiny will be Mukasey’s terrorism record. As a federal judge, he drew widespread praise for the “blind sheik” trial following the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, then raised eyebrows issuing secret warrants after 9/11. Another issue is timing: With Bush’s term ending, any reforms a new AG might institute will have only about a year to take hold.