Homeland Security choice suggests priority shift

Obama nominates Jeh C. Johnson to replace Janet Napolitano
Associated Press
Oct 18, 2013


President Barack Obama on Friday nominated the Pentagon's former top lawyer to help craft the nation's counterterrorism policy as secretary of homeland security, suggesting a shift from the department's emphasis on immigration and border issues to a greater focus on security against possible attacks.

If confirmed by the Senate — and no organized opposition has been indicated — Jeh C. Johnson would replace Janet Napolitano, who left her post last month to become president of the University of California system. Johnson, whose first name is pronounced "Jay," is now a lawyer in a private firm.

Obama said he was nominating Johnson because of his "deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the United States." He credited Johnson with helping design and implement policies to dismantle the core of the al-Qaida terror organization overseas and to repeal the ban on openly gay service members in the U.S. military.

"He's been there in the Situation Room, at the table in moments of decision," Obama said as he announced the nomination from the Rose Garden on a crisp and sunny fall afternoon.

Napolitano, who came to the Homeland Security Department after serving as governor of Arizona, made clear that her top priority was immigration reform, and she routinely championed the issue in congressional testimony. In contrast, Johnson has spent most of his career dealing with national security issues as a top military lawyer. Issues he has handled include changing military commissions to try some terrorism suspects rather than using civilian courts and overseeing the escalation of the use of unmanned drone strikes during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Homeland Security Department was created in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which Johnson said occurred on his birthday. He noted that he was in Manhattan on that fateful day when the World Trade Center was struck, and he said he was motivated to do something to help the country in response. But he left government service in 2012 and said he was settling back into private life and work at a law firm.

"I was not looking for this opportunity," Johnson said. "But when I received the call, I could not refuse it."

Johnson, a multimillionaire lawyer outside of his government posts, has defended the administration's targeted killings of U.S. citizens overseas as well as the role of the U.S. spy court and crackdowns to keep government secrets.

If confirmed, he would manage a department with more than 20 different agencies, a budget of more than $45 billion and a staff of hundreds of thousands of civilian, law enforcement and military personnel. On any given day, the job includes making decisions about disaster relief, distribution of a shrinking grants budget, which immigrants living in the United States illegally to deport and how to protect passenger jets from would-be terrorists.

Johnson, a one-time assistant U.S. attorney in New York, would inherit a department whose public face in recent years has been associated with immigration. But that's an area he has little experience with.

Matt Fishbein, who worked with Johnson in a private law firm in the early 1980s and served on a New York City bar panel while the nominee was chairman in the late '90s, described the job Johnson will face.

"Ultimately, he's responsible for security in this age of terrorism," said Fishbein, a Debevoise & Plimpton law firm partner in New York. "I imagine that means every single day coming across his desk is going to be very scary information that he's going to have to sort out and see if there's a basis for it. You need to secure and protect the country while not overstepping the bounds, violating civil liberties. It's a tough job."

Johnson has made clear his support for using done strikes to kill enemy combatants, including U.S. citizens overseas. He has also said that he considers "lone wolf" terrorists to be a law enforcement problem, not enemy combatants who should be targeted in military strikes.

Homeland Security is almost never the lead law enforcement agency in domestic terror cases. It includes Customs and Border Protection, whose primary mission is preventing terrorists from coming into the country. DHS also has a presence on the FBI-led joint terrorism task forces around the country, with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service.

Johnson's experience in dealing with overseas actions and counterterror decisions may also be helpful for a department still trying to define its role in the fight against terrorism. Homeland Security has a growing footprint around the world.

If confirmed, Johnson would take over an agency with numerous high-level vacancies, including the deputy secretary. When Janet Napolitano left to take over as president of the University of California in September, one-third of the heads of key agencies and divisions were filled with acting officials or had been vacant for months. Obama has nominated several people to key positions, including general counsel. His pick to be the department's No. 2, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas, is the subject of an internal investigation, and his nomination has been stalled.

Johnson is a 1979 graduate of Morehouse College and a 1982 graduate of Columbia Law School. After leaving the administration in 2012, he returned to private practice. According to the website of his law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, his civil and criminal clients have included Citigroup, Salomon Smith Barney, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Gillette.

Johnson earned more than $2.6 million from his partnership at that law firm, according to 2009 government financial disclosure documents. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Johnson donated more than $33,000 to Obama's campaign, federal records show. He was also a supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton, having contributed $2,300 to her presidential primary campaign in July 2008. He's also given $5,000 to the New Jersey Democratic Party and $1,000 to Democrats nationwide, as well as to several congressional candidates.

Obama's campaign website listed Johnson as a member of the then-candidate's national finance committee and an adviser to Obama's foreign policy team during the 2008 election.


Darwin's choice

Another lawyer buddy...


Re: "Johnson, a multimillionaire lawyer,"

Just ANOTHER member of the one percent Political Ruling Class (Nomenklatura) helping to further militarize the U.S.

"Homeland Security." Kinda sounds like the Nazis' "Fatherland" or the Soviet's "Motherland" doesn't it?

Any similarities are probably just coincidental though. :)



One World Dictator coming your way.

2cents's picture

About early eighties, late seventies it started downhill in my eyes!



Re: "About early eighties, late seventies,"

IMO, more like during the LBJ Admin. and even earlier.

House Un-American Activities Committee:

"It was created in 1938 to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Communist ties."


In the early 20th Century, it was the anarchists, then the communists, now it's the terrorists and "lone wolves."

The names change but the "enemy" is the same. Meanwhile the consolidation of power in the hands of the State continues.

We need another Frank Church.



You are correct. Another member of the 1% rich ruling class will dictate to the 99% class. The 99% must obey the 1% rich ruling class. The sheeple cheer on the actions of the rich ruling class.

"Jeh Johnson, Obama’s Pick for Homeland Security: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know"

1. He Supports Mass Surveillance

2. He Was Pivotal in Repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

3. He Oversaw the Rise of Drone Killings

4. He's Tough on Whistleblowers

5. He Said MLK Jr. Would Have Supported U.S. Wars in the Middle East


More wars based on lies in the future. Do you want to send your sons and daughters off to die in some war so that the 1% ruling class can become richer? The 1% want to rule the world. New World Order is coming.

The Big Dog's back

pooh, you know all about Nazi's. You'd be in your glory in 1936 Germany.


SS Guard. We need to be protected from ourselves!


Dear god, it just keeps getting WORSE...

Peninsula Pundit

'The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance.'
I never thought the application of this motto would be in reference to the American citizen having to keep a vigilant eye on our own government, but that's what is required these days.


Actually, the quote was made in reference to the new American government. It's an admonishment to watch out for corruption and erosions of liberty, and to take quick action to stop those things when discovered.

The decades-long failure of most Americans to take those words to heart is why we're where we are today. I realize that John Adams said he was at war so his sons could be merchants and THEIR sons could be poets. But in a relatively few generations, Americans have become utterly complacent and frankly ripe for the picking. Enter Obama...

Stop It

Something is Really wrong with this:

"Homeland Security has a growing footprint around the world."





If the above doesn't disturb you from a fourth amendment perspective, you must love Big Brother.

There are 100 SWAT raids EVERY DAY in the U.S.


Goodbye America.
Hello European Union.

The Global dictator ( i.e. anti-Christ) will rise out of Europe.

The stage is still being set.



IMO, this is interesting, but spam filters are preventing me from providing links.


"Creeping Capital Controls At JPMorgan Chase?"


"Currency Controls At Chase"

"Nevertheless, this proves the risks with banks. Whatever is there can be simply frozen.

This is one reason why capital is moving into equities." - Armstrong Economics

Remember the "bail-ins" during the Cyprus banking crisis?

Account amounts in excess of 1M euros were confiscated and ATM withdrawals were limited to 100 euros (about $73.00) per day.

Darwin's choice