Obama Nominates Former Pentagon Official as DHS Secretary

By:  Warren Mass
Obama Nominates Former Pentagon Official as DHS Secretary

President Obama nominated Jeh Johnson, a former General Counsel for the Defense Department, to be the next secretary of the Homeland Security Department.

Speaking at a public ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Friday afternoon, President Obama nominated Jeh Johnson (shown in photo), a former General Counsel for the Defense Department, to become the next secretary of the Homeland Security Department.

Obama called Johnson a “critical member” of his national security team, saying that Johnson had “demonstrated again and again … a deep understanding of the threats facing the United States,” reported the Washington Examiner.

“He’s respected across our government as a team player,” Obama continued, adding that Johnson had “earned a reputation as a cool and calm leader.”

“I urge the Senate to confirm Jeh as soon as possible,” said the president. The nominee’s first name is pronounced “Jay.”

The Examiner report noted that during his position of General Counsel at Defense, Johnson played an important role in departmental policy decisions, including “the expansion of the administration’s overseas drone strikes, rules governing the use of military commissions at Guantanamo Bay and the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ ” 

“For those service members who are gay and lesbian, we lifted a real and personal burden from their shoulders,” Johnson said last year at the ceremony recognizing the repeal of the policy. “They no longer have to live a lie in the military.”

A CBS News report on the announcement said that Obama commended Johnson for his legal work that helped to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Obama said that Johnson, “believes in a deep and personal way that keeping America safe requires us upholding the values and civil liberties that make America great.”

The president did not explain why he believes that allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military would help keep America safe.

CBS also noted that in an interview with talk show host Charlie Rose in May, Johnson said that the Obama administration’s policies have resembled the Bush administration's second-term policies, but mentioned some differences, saying, “We started from fundamentally different places.”

For example, when Johnson asked Defense Department lawyers trained during the Bush administration about the legality of certain policies, they would tell him, “there's nothing that prohibits it.”

Noting a different approach under Obama, Johnson said: “The question that would be asked in the Obama years is ... what authorizes this.... What authorizes this specific activity in international law and domestic law?”

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Photo of Jeh Johnson with President Obama: AP Images

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