OK. So, Mukasey vows to be an independent attorney general. But “independent” is a nuanced word, particularly when we’re talking about the Justice Department and the White House, which, last we heard, were part of the same administration. So, are we talking door beads or concertina wire? In the past two years, we’ve heard a host of tales about how Vice President Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington, mowed down legal precedents by the bushel even when the poindexters over at Justice found flaws in their rationales. How does Mukasey show he’s nobody’s patsy, while faithfully executing the president’s policy?

“On key issues, especially those involving national security and personal liberty, Mukasey needs to ensure that the voices of career professionals are heard, and he needs to interpose his own personal review, assisted by people like the solicitor general and the deputy attorney general,” says WilmerHale partner Jamie Gorelick, former deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton.