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15 February 2005

Congressional Report, February 15: Senate Confirms Chertoff

Bush's nominee to become homeland security secretary

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed the nomination of Michael Chertoff to become secretary of homeland security.

By a vote of 98-0, the Senate approved President Bush's nominee February 15.  Chertoff will succeed Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security.

Chertoff, currently a federal appeals court judge in New Jersey, will head a department of 180,000 employees.  Bush created the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States to strengthen the nation's defenses against the threat of future attacks.

Senator Susan Collins, chairwoman of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, urged the Senate to act quickly during six hours of debate on Chertoff's nomination.

Chertoff "knows what is needed to fight a war on terrorism, the importance of strategic planning and the need to constantly improve information sharing and cooperation among agencies at all levels of government," Collins said.

Collins praised Chertoff for recognizing that security is essential for protecting America's freedom, and for responding to her questions in the confirmation hearing by noting, "that we cannot live in liberty without security, but we would not want to live in security without liberty."

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved Chertoff's nomination February 7 by unanimous vote.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Related link: U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Nomination Hearing, Date: 2/2/05

DHS Leadership

Secretary: Michael Chertoff

On February 15, 2005, Judge Michael Chertoff was sworn in as the second Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff formerly served as United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Secretary Chertoff was previously confirmed by the Senate to serve in the Bush Administration as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. As Assistant Attorney General, he helped trace the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the al-Qaida network, and worked to increase information sharing within the FBI and with state and local officials.

Before joining the Bush Administration, Chertoff was a Partner in the law firm of Latham & Watkins. From 1994 to 1996, he served as Special Counsel for the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee.

Prior to that, Chertoff spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor, including service as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. As United States Attorney, Chertoff investigated and prosecuted several significant cases of political corruption, organized crime, and corporate fraud.

Chertoff graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1975 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1978. From 1979-1980 he served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr.

Secretary Chertoff is married to Meryl Justin and has two children.


Michael Chertoff

Birth: November 28, 1953 Elizabeth, New Jersey
Legal Residence:   New Jersey
Education: 1971 - 1975 Harvard University
    A.B. degree magna cum laude
  1975 - 1978 Harvard Law School
    J.D. degree magna cum laude
Bar Admittance: 1980 District of Columbia
  1987 New York
  1990 New Jersey
Experience: 1978 Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin
    Summer Associate
  1978 - 1979 Law Clerk to the Hon. Murray Gurfein
    United States Court of Appeals
    Second Circuit
  1979 - 1980 Law Clerk to the Hon. William J. Brennan, Jr.
    Supreme Court of the United States
  1980 - 1983 Latham & Watkins
  1983 - 1987 United States Attorney’s Office
    Southern District of New York
    Assistant United States Attorney
  1987 - 1994 United States Attorney’s Office
    District of New Jersey
    First Assistant United States Attorney, 1987-1990
    United States Attorney, 1990-1994
  1994 - 1996 United States Senate
    Special Counsel for Whitewater Committee
  1994 - 2001 Latham & Watkins
  2001 - 2005 United States Department of Justice
    Assistant Attorney General
    Criminal Division
  2005 - present DHS