January 25, 2008 / 8:14 PM / 11 years ago

Law enforcement chief has Orwellian inspiration

Attorney General Michael Mukasey smiles during his confirmation hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington October 17, 2007. Mukasey said on Friday he keeps in his office a portrait of George Orwell, whose book "1984" envisioned a futuristic technology security state overseen by a prying "Big Brother." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top law enforcement official said on Friday he keeps in his office a portrait of George Orwell, whose book “1984” envisioned a futuristic technology security state overseen by a prying “Big Brother.”

But the inspiration comes from Orwell’s writing style, not the dystopian world the English writer depicted, an aide said.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in his first extensive meeting with reporters since taking office in November, said he selected two portraits for his office, the first being Robert Jackson, a former Supreme Court Justice, U.S. attorney general and Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor.

Mukasey, a former federal judge, said he admired Jackson for his clarity of expression and thought.

“I said I had his picture hanging. His was one of two. The other was George Orwell, so put ‘em together “ Mukasey said without elaborating.

Asked what Mukasey saw in Orwell, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said it was his clarity. “When he was a judge, he assigned new law clerks George Orwell’s 1946 essay ‘Politics and the English Language.’ It’s one of the first things our speechwriter received as well,” Carr said.

Orwell wrote in his essay, “Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Jackson also had memorable sayings. “The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish,” he once wrote.

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