Powering Up : Homeland Security Blues

Given the challenges, perhaps it’s not surprising that President-elect Obama’s team is proceeding carefully when it comes to Homeland Security. Obama’s transition team for Homeland Security will only meet for the first time later this week, according to a Democrat close to the Obama campaign who would speak about the decision-making only on condition of anonymity. The person reportedly heading the team is Rand Beers, a low-key former White House and State Department adviser on intelligence and counterterrorism issues who resigned from George W. Bush’s National Security Council staff only days before the start of the Iraq War and subsequently became a top national-security adviser to Sen. John Kerry’s unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign (Beers could not be reached for comment). Despite the Obama team’s cautious approach to the subject, the president-elect does have several high-profile candidates who might be interested in the the top Homeland Security post. Only a few days before the election, one of the nation’s most respected cops, Los Angeles Police Department chief William Bratton, almost applied publicly for a top job in an Obama administration when he coauthored an op-ed piece in the New York Daily News that suggested Osama bin Laden “likely” wanted John McCain to become president. Another esteemed police exec to whom the Obama camp could reach out is New York police commissioner Ray Kelly, who under President Clinton ran U.S. Customs, most of whose operations are now part of Homeland Security. Rep Jane Harman, who chairs a House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence, is also reputed to be interested in the post; Michael Sheehan, a former top federal and NYPD terrorism expert, is also being mentioned as a possible top Homeland Security appointee.

UPDATE: Beers is confirmed, as is former DHS IG Clark Kent Ervin. Read CQ Homeland Security’s update here.