Michael Chertoff Nominated for Homeland Security
Bump and Update: The ACLU, which does not take a position on cabinet appointments, weighs in:
We are troubled that his public record suggests he sees the Bill of Rights as an obstacle to national security, rather than a guidebook for how to do security properly.
More updates and reactions at the end of this post, scroll down.
Third Circuit Appeals Judge Michael Chertoff is President Bush's new pick for homeland security chief. Chertoff was a Bush nominee to the Court.
Chertoff was a career prosecutor. He's been United States Attorney of New York and New Jersey and Assistant AG at the Main Department of Justice. He argued the case against Zacarias Moussaoui being allowed access to Al Qaeda witnesses for his trial. He also served as counsel to the Repbulican Whitewater committees investing the Clintons. In fact, the only vote in the Senate against Chertoff's confirmation came from Hillary Clinton.
Chertoff is probably smooth sailing for Bush. But, there were some delay at his judicial nomination hearing over whistleblower Jesselyn Radack. Radack had been employed in the Justice Department's Professional Responsibility Advisory Office, and claimed she was forced to resign after writing an opinion that the FBI could not interrogate "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh without his counsel present.
Here is Senator Edward Kennedy's statement on Michael Chertoff from his judicial nomination hearing. The final paragraph is:
Notwithstanding my concerns about Mr. Chertoff's performance as head of the Criminal Division, I am supporting his nomination to the Third Circuit. I am doing so based on his fine reputation as a lawyer, his achievements as a prosecutor and special counsel to the New Jersey legislature, and his assurances that as a judge he will apply the law with independence, integrity, and a commitment to due process and the core constitutional values embedded in the fabric of our democracy. My support for Mr. Chertoff's nomination today, however, should not be interpreted as an endorsement or approval for any other position.
A federal appeals court judgeship is a lifetime appointment. Chertoff is giving that up to Homeland Security Chief. Is he just altruistic, wanting to serve his President and country? Or has Bush promised him a bigger judgeship at the end of his term if he takes the helm at H.S. for a few years? Of course that's risky. What if all the openings are gone by then? And Alberto Gonzales probably has first dibs.
Chertoff hasn't been afraid to say no before to Bush. He turned down the job of Chief of the SEC to stay on at Justice.
Chertoff was an agressive "mafia proseuctor" under Giuliani in New York. I wonder if Bush sought Rudy's opinion again before nominating Chertoff to the H.S. Security post.
Update: Campaign Extra exposes Chertoff's record on civil liberties, calling him "Kerik without the Sex." Law Prof Eric Mueller, who once worked for Chertoff, notes the resemblence between Chertoff and Mr. Burns of the Simpsons. He supports the nomination but makes the same observation as I did above, what did Bush promise him to make him give up a lifetime appointment--a seat on the Supreme Court?
Update: There are accounts of chertoff's role in making sure post-911 detainees did not get lawyers, were held even if ordered out on bond or ordered deported, and even that he implicitly condoned roughing them up -- in Steven Brill's book "After:The Rebuilding and Defending of America" -- pp.146 ff, 543.
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