Obama’s Pick For Homeland Security Under Pressure

Jeh_Johnson_HomelandSec_2013WASHINGTON — When Jeh Johnson, President Obama’s pick to run the Department of Homeland Security, moved to Washington to be the top lawyer at the Pentagon in 2009, he launched a charm offensive.

He began to hold regular dinners with former George W. Bush administration lawyers and Republican congressional staff. Some were held at an expensive organic restaurant called Nora in downtown D.C., recalls John B. Bellinger III, who served as legal adviser for the State Department and the National Security Council during the Bush administration.

“He was a good listener,” Bellinger said, adding that Johnson was an important voice in maintaining continuity in military and counter-terrorism policy from the Bush years to Obama’s administration. “He knew that it’s good to have friends on both sides of the aisle.”

Johnson, whose nomination was formally announced by Obama on Friday, will need that political touch if he is confirmed to manage one of the largest, most besieged departments in the federal government. Homeland Security has struggled to streamline how it shares information on domestic terrorism threats and helps protect crucial American businesses from cyber attacks.

He will be under pressure from immigration advocates to slow down the rate of deportations, which have ticked up every year that Obama has been in office. Unions representing immigration officers are in open revolt over the Obama administration’s orders that agents focus on removing immigrants with criminal records before others.

Source: LA Times