Obama Nomination: Jeh Johnson Could Become First Black to Head Dept. of Homeland Security

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The president said Johnson has also earned a reputation as a cool and calm leader.  Johnson appreciates that any organization’s greatest asset is its people, and at the Pentagon he guided the report explaining why allowing our men and women in uniform to serve their country openly would not weaken our military, Obama said.

“Jeh believes, in a deep and personal way, that keeping America safe requires us also upholding the values and civil liberties that make America great,” Obama said.

“Jeh tells the story of his uncle who was a member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen during World War II,” Obama added.  “And he and his fellow airmen served with honor, even when their country didn’t treat them with the dignity and the respect that they deserved.  And it was a lesson that Jeh never forgot.  “We must adopt legal positions that comport with common sense,” Jeh says, “consistent with who we are as Americans.”

At DHS, Johnson would be overseeing an agency with 240,000 employees spread across 22 government agencies. The department’s mission covers counter-terrorism and cyber security, but it also oversees the government’s response to national disasters and border security.

“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,” Johnson said at the White House.

“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.  I love this country.  I care about the safety of our people.  I believe in public service.  And I remain loyal to you, Mr. President,” Johnson said.

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