Former Pentagon Official to Be Nominated as Homeland Security Chief

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WASHINGTON -- President Obama plans to nominate Jeh C. Johnson, who framed many of the administration's national security policies as the Defense Department's general counsel during Mr. Obama's first term, to become the next chief of the Homeland Security Department, according to administration officials.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Johnson will fill the vacancy left by Janet Napolitano, who resigned in July to lead the University of California system. The coming nomination was first reported by The Daily Beast.

Mr. Johnson has little experience with some of the issues Ms. Napolitano faced, like border security, immigration and cybersecurity.

During his tenure at the Defense Department, he spearheaded the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" law that had barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. He also shaped the Obama administration's policies on the detention of terrorism suspects and on targeted drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia.

Mr. Johnson, a former federal prosecutor, often sought broader latitude in the use of government power on national security issues than others in the administration, like State Department officials.

He has close ties to the president and was one of Mr. Obama's advisers and fund-raisers during his first presidential campaign.

"The president is selecting Johnson because he is one of the most highly qualified and respected national security leaders, having served as the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world," said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official did not want to be identified discussing the nomination before the president announced it.

"During his tenure at the Department of Defense, he was known for his sound judgment and counsel," the official said. "He was responsible for the prior legal review and approval of every military operation approved by the president and secretary of defense."

The president will announce the nomination at 2 p.m. on Friday, according to an administration official.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times. First Published October 17, 2013 2:00 PM


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