Obama picks DOD counsel to head Homeland Security Dept

18 October 2013 19:22  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--President Barack Obama on Friday named former Department of Defense (DOD) general counsel Jeh Johnson to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), saying he was the right man for the job.

As the top official at DHS, Johnson would have overall responsibility for a wide range of federal antiterrorism, investigatory and infrastructure security issues, including the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS).

That controversial and troubled programme was designed to improve protective measures at major US chemical facilities against possible attacks by terrorists seeking catastrophic off-site casualties.

The programme has been plagued for years by cost overruns, high staff turnover and long delays in providing on-site facility security inspections mandated by law.

One US senator charged in August 2012 that the department’s management of CFATS was “a $500m failure”.

According to his professional biography, Johnson began his legal career in the mid-1980s at the New York City-based law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, et al., but left that job in 1989 to serve as an assistant US attorney in the southern district of New York state, where he prosecuted public corruption cases.

He returned to Paul Weiss in 1992 and was made a partner in the firm in 1994.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton appointed him as general counsel for the US Air Force. He returned again to Paul Weiss in 2001, where he served as a trial lawyer in commercial cases.

Obama picked Johnson to serve as DOD general counsel in 2009, where he was active in counterterrorism policies until he resigned last year to return to private practice.

If he is confirmed by the US Senate, Johnson will succeed DHS secretary Janet Napolitano who resigned in July.

By: Joe Kamalick
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