Attorney General Michael Mukasey this afternoon gave Boston College law school graduates a crash course on ethics as he spoke about the responsibilities of attorneys in the context of public service and national security.
"If you do your job well, there will be times when you will have to advise clients that the law prohibits them from doing things that they want to do, or that might even be, in your view, the right thing to do," Mukasey said in his speech. "And there will be times when you will have to advise clients that the law permits them to take actions that you may find imprudent, or even wrong."
Mukasey also praised former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith's book, The Terror Presidency, as "indispensable" for highlighting the timid atmosphere that prevailed among government attorneys prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Mukasey, who mentioned Goldsmith no less than five times during his speech, says lawyers' work, especially in government, will always be scrutinized.
Mukasey's appearance in Newton, Mass. ends nearly four months of controversy.
Boston College law professors and students had questioned the school's decision to invite Mukasey in light of his views on waterboarding -- an interrogation technique simulating drowning that was used by the CIA against al-Qaida suspects.
Some law faculty members -- who had written Mukasey in March to refrain from giving the commencement speech -- passed out fliers at today's ceremony condemning his campus visit.
Eagleionline.com, the independent blog for Boston College law school students, also quotes professors who abstained from the graduation commencement out of "principle."
Mukasey addressed the opposition to his presence at the outset:
"Boston College Law School has a history of inviting commencement speakers who reflect diverse views on important legal and public policy issues. Of course, this has meant speakers with whom some faculty members and students have strongly disagreed -- including, most recently, me."