A Wappingers Falls native has been appointed by President Barack Obama to head the Department of Homeland Security. The Pentagon's former top lawyer, Jeh Johnson, was selected for the job. Johnson began his career as a federal prosecutor in New York's Southern District. YNN's Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Geoff Bennett has more.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The President called Jeh Johnson a friend and an outstanding public servant in nominating him to head the Department of Homeland Security.
“From the moment I took office, Jeh was an absolutely critical member of my national security team and he demonstrated again and again the qualities that will make him a strong Secretary of Homeland Security,” Obama said.
Johnson said he was happily settling into private life, when the White House came calling.
"But when I received the call, I could not refuse it. I am a New Yorker and I was present in Manhattan on 9/11, which happens to be my birthday, when that bright and beautiful day was, a day something like this, was shattered by the largest terrorist attack on our homeland in history. I wandered the streets of New York that day and wondered and asked, what can I do? Since then, I have tried to devote myself to answering that question," Johnson said.
At the Defense Department, Johnson played a key role in repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and helped the Pentagon craft its Hurricane Sandy response effort. He also helped establish the legal policy for the Obama administration's use of drones.
The 56-year-old is a Columbia Law School graduate, who began his legal career as a federal prosecutor in New York's Southern District.
Johnson would replace former Secretary Janet Napolitano, who left the post this summer to become president of the University of California system.
If confirmed by the Senate, Johnson would be the department’s fourth secretary since President Bush created it following the September 11th attacks.