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For Mukasey, Some Questions About (His) Security

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In the early 1990s, Michael B. Mukasey, a former federal district judge in Manhattan, and fellow federal judge Kevin Thomas Duffy were given U.S. Marshals Service protection while hearing high-profile terrorism cases. The two judges were assigned deputy U.S. marshals and armored limousines.

Mukasey's security cost taxpayers $28 million -- about $10,000 a day -- during the last seven years of the 12-year protection assignment, which ended in 2005. Marshals Service employees filed a grievance about the detail, arguing that the agency's Southern District of New York office was being overworked by the round-the-clock protection of the two judges. The grievance included assertions that the judges told their Marshals Service bodyguards to perform duties that strayed far from security, including carrying the two judges' groceries and golf clubs and taking out their trash.

The White House says that most of the particulars in the grievance do not refer to Mukasey, who is President Bush's nominee for attorney general and faces a confirmation hearing tomorrow. "Everyone who has worked with Judge Mukasey has reported that he always treats everyone with the utmost respect and integrity," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. He specifically said that two assertions in the grievance -- that marshals had to turn over first-class airline seats to the persons they were protecting on a trip, and the marshals being unable to flush a toilet while on overnight guard duty -- did not pertain to Mukasey.

Duffy did not return calls to his office.

"I'm not saying" it was Duffy, said U.S. Marshal Joseph R. Guccione, who supervised and for a time was assigned to Mukasey's protection. "The spouses also fell under the umbrella of the protection detail . . . it could have been anybody."

The grievance is excerpted here.

-- Elizabeth Williamson

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