Since it is a worthless and juvenile parlor game in Washington to speculate about whom the President will appoint as the next Secretary of Whatever, Supreme Court Justice, Vacant Senate Seat Filler, and, now, National Minister of Lending … we at the Security Debrief want to assure our readers that we are not beneath stooping to such pointless guessing ourselves. And so, without further ado … our bets on the next Secretary of Homeland Security …
1. Jim Turner – Former US Rep of Texas who served as ranking member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and Ranking Member of the Terrorism Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. He’s a Blue Dog Democrat with tremendous respect on both sides of the political aisles who understands the strategic threats and remedying means to address them.
2. Ray Kelly – Commissioner, NYPD, former Commissioner of US Customs Service and Under Secretary of the Treasury, retired USMC Officer. He led the recovery of the NYPD post 9/11 and developed the largest intelligence network in the world, with ‘street-centric’ strategies to safeguard the number one of terrorist target – New York City. He has been an ardent champion of improved information sharing with local law enforcement so as to aid anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism efforts.
3. Janet Napolitano – Governor, State of Arizona, former State Attorney General and former US Attorney. The border state governor has first hand experience on the costs, implications and consequences of a porous US Border with Mexico. She was one of the first elected leaders to call for the deployment of the National Guard to support Border Security improvements. Her experience in dealing with these issues, combined with State Attorney General and US Attorney experience make her exceptionally skilled at dealing with the legal and operational frameworks that homeland security has to operate.
I’d love to see LAPD Chief, Bill Bratton take the job but he’s stated in several forums that he doesn’t want it and can do more from his current position to advance homeland security.
1. James Lee Witt – Great experience in the part of the homeland job – preparedness and response – most important to his party. Plus might solve the take FEMA out of DHS issue if he’s in charge of all of it.
2. Susan Collins – There has to be one qualified Republican in the cabinet and she is both. Plus would open up a Senate seat for a Democratic pickup.
3. Tim Roemer – 9/11 qualifications and well-connected on the Hill.
4. Jamie Gorelick – 9/11 qualifications and plugged in with Center for American Progress transition effort.
5. Wesley Clark – Military angle.
6. Ray Kelly – Easily qualified and knows parts of DHS (Customs, Secret Service) already.
7. Rudy Guiliani – If they REALLY want to be bipartisan…
8. Fran Townsend – Great experience and connections on both sides of the aisle
9. Jim Turner – Safe, qualified pick.
10. Democratic Governor with a Democratic Lieutenant Governor to replace him/her – i.e. not Napolitano or Kaine.
1. Janet Napolitano – Though she was wants to be Attorney General, but in my book, is one of the few elected officials with all of the right credibility to do the job.
2. Lee Hamilton – Need I say more? He would bring some gravitas to the position.
3. Bill Richardson – Governor Richardson knows DC and would be a help on immigration issues, along with his understanding of intelligence issues.
4. Jon Corzine – A sharp guy and that has nothing to prove. New Jersey has done some unique work and he would understand
5. Richard Danzig – Especially if Gates is asked to stay for a while.
6. Joe Liberman – Sen. Liberman shows the bipartisan-healing approach and that has the possibility to open up the Senate to addressing the challenge for the Democratic leadership regarding what to do with him. Further, his real Jefferson approach to create unity while protecting one’s back is important.
7. Chuck Robb – He brings state and local credibility with a whole bunch of private sector and intel perspectives.
8. Bill Bratton – Even though he does not want the job, he would take it.
There are optics here. The DHS portfolio is broad. It has many policy twists and turns – has a decidedly state and local as well as private sector importance. A state and/or local personality would be good, and given the Katrina experience (and depending on who they pick for FEMA) the country needs someone sharp. Danzig and Liberman offer a wealth of pluses. Richardson could help with the immigration issue. The challenge may be to find someone who has street credibility, policy understanding and is operationally astute.
1. Randy Beers
2. Jim Loy
1. The 9/11 Commissioners: Lee Hamilton or Tom Kean. Former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton was one of Obama’s top advisers on homeland security and national security issues during the campaign. Along with Republican Tom Kean, he co-chaired the 9/11 Commission. He had a long and respected tenure as Chairman of the Committee on International Relations in Congress. The question is whether Hamilton, at this stage in his career and life (he’s in his seventies), would want to take on one of the most demanding and thankless jobs in Washington. Kean would be a bipartisan choice but there appears to be little indication he is under consideration.
2. The Top Cops: Ray Kelly and Bill Bratton have both proven themselves to be innovative leaders in law enforcement on the national level. Indeed, Kelly has built himself a mini-Department of Homeland Security within the New York Police Department. He also understand DHS, having formerly run the U.S. Customs (which was divided into ICE and CBP at DHS). Working alongside Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bratton turned New York City’s crime-ridden streets around with unprecedented innovation. And now he’s helping turn Los Angeles around. Bratton has stated publicly he does not want the job, but hasn’t every individual who’s ever been tossed into the arena of public speculation for such jobs claimed he or she was happy and not interested? (It’s bad form to want a job too much.)
3. The Shadow Secretaries: Gary Hart and Warren Rudman have made post-political careers writing and speaking about homeland and national security issues. The two co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force sounding the alarm that America is unprepared for another attack. Like Hamilton, Rudman is getting up there in years and may not have the energy necessary to take on the role of leading DHS. Gary Hart, however, is plenty young, plenty ambitious and, unlike Rudman, a Democrat.
4. The Bipartisan Nominees: Joe Lieberman or Susan Collins. Here’s a chance for Obama to show he is serious about a post-partisan Washington. The one-time Democrat Joe Lieberman very publicly backed his long-time friend in the Senate, John McCain, against Obama and would have been a leading choice for DHS Secretary for a McCain Administration. His foreign policy credentials are unquestionable, and as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee, he helped author the legislation creating DHS. Besides being a truly remarkable show of Above-the-Partisanship statesmanship, it would also save the Senate Democrats from having to decide what to do with Lieberman, since Majority Leader Reid has made clear he doesn’t want to let Lieberman keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. Another bipartisan choice would be Lieberman’s Republican colleague on the committee, Sen. Susan Collins. And it might be a smart political move for whip-counting Democrats in the Senate. Collins barely fended of a strong challenger from Democrat Tom Allen. Should Collins vacate the seat, Allen would have the upper hand in a special election.
5. The Slightly Misplaced Selection: John Brennan. A more likely choice for National Director of Intelligence, though he may have to compete with House Intel Committee Chairman Jane Harman; however, watch for Brennan to be slotted somewhere senior in the Obama national security team.
6. The Good-But Nominee: James Lee Witt. Widely praised for his tenure as head of FEMA during the Clinton Administration, but Witt has since run into controversy over allegations of profiting off of Hurricane Katrina as a consultant. Such allegations could prove unnecessarily risky, providing an opening to hostile questions and possible partisan grandstanding during a Senate confirmation hearing.
7. The Consensus Choice: Janet Napolitano. This Governor andformer US Attorney campaigned hard for Obama and helped win over women voters who felt alienated after Hillary Clinton’s loss. Obama will reward her somehow. I would suspect she’s more interested in AG, though.
8. The Conservative Blogosphere’s Heckling Choice: Bill Ayers. Who knows more about terrorism in America than Ayers, goes the joke.
US News & World Report
US News lays out its own speculation on the Obama Cabinet, placing Richard Clarke in the running, along with some of the other familiar names.
Hot Air blog:
Hot Air comments on the US News picks: “Richard Clarke at Homeland Security: Actually, the line-up there looks decent, with Tim Roemer, Raymond Kelly, Bill Bratton, and James Lee Witt on the list. Witt’s the weakest of the five, and Clarke was part of the team that failed pre-9/11. Bratton might make the best selection, but I wonder if Obama might appoint Joe Lieberman instead to resolve the standoff in the Senate?”
Be sure to check back often, as more information becomes available, we will keep updating our contributor’s thoughts.