President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Jeh Johnson to succeed Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Johnson (pronounced “Jay”) comes to DHS from the Pentagon, where he served as the Department of Defence’s top lawyer and legal counsel during the first term of the Obama administration, after which he left to return to private practice.
As the Pentagon’s former top counsel, Johnson was responsible for litigating many of the nation’s most important military and national-security related decisions. He oversaw a rise in the administration’s use of drones and targeted killings. He also is credited for giving Congress the ammunition to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I was not looking for this opportunity,” Johnson said at a press conference in the Rose Garden with Obama. “But when I received this call I could not refuse it”
Here’s a rundown of some key things you need to know about Johnson:
- He co-authored the 250-page report that paved the way for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by Congress in 2010, which the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart called his “greatest legacy.”
- He supports the administration’s policy on drone strikes and targeted killings. “In my view, targeted lethal force is at its least controversial when it is on its strongest, most traditional legal foundation. The essential mission of the U.S. military is to capture or kill an enemy. Armies have been doing this for thousands of years,” Johnson said at Fordham Law School in March.
- He also supports the administration’s collection of “metadata,” which has been something that has earned the administration wide scrutiny over the past few months.
- He was a law partner of the late Ted Sorensen, John F. Kennedy’s speechwriter, he told the Council on Foreign Relations in March 2012. Johnson said that Sorensen is “one of my personal heroes.”
- His birthday, ironically, is Sept. 11.
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