Jeh Johnson Tapped For Homeland Security Chief

Jeh Johnson is President Obama’s pick for the new Homeland Security Chief, according to several media reports on Thursday. President Obama apparently plans to announce his pick during a ceremony at the White House tomorrow.

The Daily Beast claimed an exclusive on the information, saying they were told by a White House official. Later on, Reuters also confirmed the news, saying the ceremony will take place at 2 pm EDT.

The official added to Reuters, “The president is selecting Johnson because he is one [of] the most qualified and respected national security leaders, having served as the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world.”

Jeh Johnson is a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP. He served as general counsel in the Department of Defense during President Obama’s first term and was involved int he administration’s policy on the legality of drone use.

While Johnson’s familiarity in dealing with counterterrorism and cyber-security threats will be a comfort to some, he isn’t as familiar with disaster relief and immigration enforcement, two key elements of the Department of Homeland Security.

Jeh Johnson will have to go through the Senate confirmation process and, if he is confirmed, he will be the fourth secretary of the DHS, which was established after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He will succeed Janet Napolitano, who stepped down in September to become president of the University of California System.

However, it is likely Johnson will face some resistance in the Senate, which has happened with the majority of Obama’s Cabinet picks this year. Still, A spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn, the top Republican on the Senate’s Homeland Security committee, stated that Coburm “looks forward to meeting with Mr. Johnson and considering his qualifications to lead and reform DHS.”

Jeh Johnson was one of President Obama’s first supporters when he decided to run for president, though his appointment as the head of the DHS is surprising, since he wasn’t one of the expected successors to Napolitano.

[Image by R.D. Ward via Wikimedia Commons]