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Bush Names Chertoff as Homeland Security Secretary

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2005 – President Bush today nominated federal appeals court judge Michael Chertoff, "a key leader in the war on terror" as the nation's second secretary of homeland security.

Speaking at the White House's Roosevelt Room, the president said Chertoff helped trace the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to the al Qaeda network. He praised Chertoff's early recognition that "the strategy in the war on terror is to prevent attacks before they occur."

Chertoff was manager of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred and has been a key contributor to vital security improvements made in response, the president said.

Bush said he's confident Chertoff will provide the "strong, effective leadership" needed as the Department of Homeland Security continues ensuring "a comprehensive, unified effort to protect the American people against new dangers."

Under the direction of outgoing Secretary Tom Ridge, the department has improved airline security, enhanced the protection of borders and ports of entry, and taken vital steps to safeguard the nation's critical infrastructure, Bush said.

He said the department will continue these efforts, as well as its efforts to reduce the country's vulnerability to weapons of mass destruction and cyberterrorism. "We're engaged in a daily mission to prepare effective responses to any future attack and to closely coordinate homeland security efforts with state and local officials," Bush said.

"Our nation is still at war," the president said. "We're focused. We're taking decisive actions on the home front that are critical to winning this war."

Bush praised Chertoff's "stellar career" as a public servant. His resume includes experience as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, as an assistant U.S. attorney general, as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, as a federal prosecutor in New York City and as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan.

"In all of his roles, Mike has shown a deep commitment to the cause of justice and an unwavering determination to protect the American people," the president said.

Bush also praised the outgoing Ridge for his contributions as the nation's first secretary of homeland security. "Tom Ridge has the gratitude of our entire nation," the president said. "I thank him for his leadership. I appreciate his hard work."

Chertoff acknowledged that Ridge "leaves some very big shoes to fill."

If confirmed by the Senate as secretary of homeland security, he said, "it will be my privilege to serve with the thousands of men and women who stand watch across the country and overseas, protecting our security and promoting our freedom."

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