Recently, I learned that President Bush will name Michele Leonhart as the Administration’s nominee to be the permanent head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The President’s decision to name such a worthy and dedicated public servant to the post should be commended.

Having previously served in the same position, I can attest to the challenging and important nature of the role that Leonhart will fulfill. The DEA acts as an anchor in the nation’s overall law enforcement efforts. Now, more than ever as we strengthen our borders and improve homeland security in a post 9/11 world, we need strong leadership from those who have been fighting the fight on the ground level, day in and day out. The men and women who risk their lives to make our streets safer deserve the type of competent, balanced leadership that Leonhart will bring.

Leonhart – who served as the DEA’s Number Two before former Administrator Karen Tandy left late last year- brings an insider’s perspective from years on the front lines of the drug war as a long-time police officer and DEA field agent. After leading the DEA’s efforts in both the San Francisco and Los Angeles Field Offices as the Special Agent in Charge, Leonhart made the tough but admirable decision to leave the field and take an important leadership role at headquarters where she has proven herself time and again.

I commend President Bush’s decision to renew our commitment to fighting drugs by appointing such a solid candidate in Leonhart, and urge the Senate to once again exercise sound judgment by confirming her to the position in a timely manner.