Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 5, 2006

Rumors of change at the top of DHS

Filed under: DHS News — by Christian Beckner on March 5, 2006

From Human Events magazine last Friday:

In the aftermath of the public revelation of the presidential “teleconference” and mounting criticism of the performance of Michael Chertoff, Administration sources told HUMAN EVENTS today that the secretary of Homeland Security has “only a few days left” in the Bush Cabinet.

As one source acquainted with the former federal prosecutor and U.S. appellate judge said under promise of anonymity, “They will give [Chertoff] a little time so it won’t hurt his reputation too much, but he’s probably got only a few days left.

The UPI covered this rumor after it was reported in Human Events.

I don’t have any direct information that would support or refute this speculation. My sense from watching events in Congress over the last few weeks is that there is real frustration with DHS, but this frustration does not translate into a wide desire for a change in leadership.

I’ve been generally very supportive of Sec. Chertoff in his first year at DHS, even after Hurricane Katrina. I think the long-term risk-based strategy that he has proposed for the Department is spot on. But at the same time, I’ve had concerns about the way in which the Department is being governed: the second-stage review was intended to “flatten” the organization, but one result of that reorganization has been that the Secretary and Deputy Secretary have at least 26 different people as direct reports to them. That’s too many – in your average Fortune 500 company, the CEO has 6-10 direct reports. I think careful consideration needs to be given in the coming weeks and months to the processes by which authority is devolved and decisions are made within the Department.

In spite of these concerns, I don’t think a change in leadership would be good for the nation’s homeland security right now. It would lead to a time-consuming reorg exercise, distracting the Department from its necessary operational objectives. We don’t have that luxury of time. I would rather see the current team stay in place, having (hopefully) learned the management-related lessons of Katrina, and continuing with their previous plans to build a DHS that can effectively protect the nation.

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1 Comment »


Comment by Brian Duffy

March 6, 2006 @ 11:37 am

I agree with you and by removing Chertoff the major internal problems remain. Personally I think heads should roll through out DHS and allow for a new blood to facilitate Chertoff’s vision.

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