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Obama Nominates Former Pentagon Attorney as Homeland Security Chief
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President Barack Obama is nominating former Pentagon attorney Jeh Johnson as the new chief of Homeland Security. Johnson is a national security and counterterrorism expert who played a vital role in removing the ban on gays in the US military. Johnson’s nomination requires Senate approval.

A White House official quoted by Reuters said on Thursday, “The president is selecting Johnson because he is one (of) the most highly qualified and respected national security leaders, having served as the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world.”

  
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Johnson is one of the experts who have consistently supported controversial efforts of the Obama administration like the use of military drones.

Currently a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Johnson authored a report on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that led to its repeal in 2010 and permitted gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US military.

Confirmation of Johnson as the chief of Homeland Security would bring greater diversity to the federal administration with an African American in each of the vital posts of President, Attorney General and Chief of Homeland Security.

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Praising Johnson’s contribution, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta urged the Senate to confirm Johnson as quickly as possible. Panetta said Johnson has the experience of working on every major issue of America’s security including cybersecurity, border security, and counterterrorism.

Johnson was also instrumental in mobilizing resources of the Department of Defense to support the Department of Homeland Security during disaster responses like the Gulf oil spill and Hurricane Sandy.



Johnson’s prospective nomination has found acceptance with lawmakers concerned with the Department of Homeland Security and who are upset over the huge number of positions that are remaining vacant.

Michael McCaul, chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security committee said, “Even with this prospective nominee, over 40 percent of senior leadership positions at DHS are either vacant or have an ‘acting placeholder’ … lack of leadership at the White House is reflected in the holes in leadership at the Department …”



 

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