Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 17, 2013

Jeh Johnson nominated for DHS Secretary

Filed under: DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 17, 2013

Several news outlets are reporting the President will nominate Jeh Johnson as Secretary of Homeland Security.  Mr. Johnson served as DOD Chief Counsel from 2009-2012.

Lots to talk about in tomorrow’ Friday Free Forum?

The following is taken verbatim from the website of the law firm with which Mr. Johnson has been affiliated since departing the Department of Defense:

Jeh Johnson’s career has been a mixture of successful private law practice and distinguished public service. In private practice, Mr. Johnson is a nationally recognized trial lawyer, having personally tried some of the highest stakes commercial cases of recent years. At age 47, he was elected a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. In public service, Mr. Johnson was appointed by President Obama to serve as the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2009-2012), by President Clinton to serve as General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force (1998-2001), and he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York (1989-1991).


As General Counsel of the Defense Department in President Obama’s first term, Mr. Johnson was the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world, responsible for the legal work of more than 10,000 military and civilian lawyers. With the nation in armed conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against al-Qaeda during his tenure, Mr. Johnson was responsible for the prior legal review and approval of every military operation approved by the President and Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Johnson is credited with spear-heading reforms to the military commissions system at Guantanamo Bay adopted by the Congress in 2009, and co-authoring the 250-page report that paved the way for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by the Congress in 2010. The report was hailed by the Washington Post editorial page as a remarkable document for its “honest, thorough and respectful handling of a delicate subject.” Mr. Johnson’s November 2012 address at the Oxford Union in England, “The Conflict Against al-Qaeda and Its Affiliates: How Will It End?,” received national and international press attention and wide editorial acclaim.

In private practice in 1984-1988, 1992-1998, 2001-2008 and now, Mr. Johnson has been a Paul Weiss litigator and civil and criminal trial lawyer. His career as a trial lawyer began when he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney. In three years as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Johnson tried 12 jury cases and argued 11 appeals before the Second Circuit. Building on that experience, Mr. Johnson has continued to try significant civil and criminal cases in private practice.


Homeland Security Watch has one prior post dealing with Mr. Johnson, from February 23, 2012.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

October 18, 2013 @ 7:37 am

Unfortunately another lawyer for DHS Secretary. IMO while the first three had some success it was very limited and their tenures largely ones of failure.

Explanation to follow on Friday Free Forum.

Comment by Embarrassing

October 18, 2013 @ 8:20 am

So embarrassed to be part of a field where someone without any background in anything this organization does can be appointed to lead it. To my knowledge, while this guy might be a great lawyer, he has never worked in state or local government, never responded to a single disaster or crisis in his life, never walked a border crossing or worn a badge. Never led / managed an organization of any kind. Someone please call Mike Brown and ask him how this worked out for him.

From an organization perspective, ill predict he’ll have a weak tenure marked by being completely overrun by the DHS operational agencies, since the HQ elements dont have the same coordinating gravitas that exists in OSD in DoD.

I suppose this marks another signal that traditional national security has eaten the efforts of homeland security to find a place at the table.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 18, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

NYTimes reports by his own admission Mr. Johnson wandered the streets of NYC on 9/11/01 wondering how he could help? Is this a crisis manager?

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 18, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

Phil! Thanks for digging out the prior post! I stand by my earlier comments!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 20, 2013 @ 8:00 am

Now predicting Mr.Johnson will NOT be confirmed by full Senate and may not make it out of the Committee!

Various reasons!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 21, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

CRS has released a report on the federal response to chemical accidents. See posts on WEST, TX event!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

I sent an e-mail request to Senator Tom Carper [D of DE] who will chair the Johnson Confirmation hearing as head of DHS. I asked Senator Carper to have Mr. Johnson identify in writing duplication and overlaps of DoD and DHS legal authorities and how these legal authorities are coordinated between DoD and DHS in their administration.

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