menu

Why Ray Kelly Won’t Be Leading DHS

It would be easy enough to question the wisdom, let alone judgment, of the Congressional Black Caucus, given their recent endorsement of the ever-divisive and volatile Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to be the next Secretary of DHS. It would seem, however, that their political senses are back in place given a new letter they’ve sent the President. This letter, instead of the ringing endorsement of a candidate for the DHS Secretary’s post, is more of a warning shot not to pick a particular individual for the position.

The person they don’t want to lead DHS – NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. The reason why – “Stop and Frisk.”

With the recent court ruling calling the controversial tactic “unconstitutional” (and despite Kelly’s public defense of the tactic and the even more public defense by his long time boss, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the editorial pages of the Washington Post), there is no way this White House has the political capital to pull off Kelly’s confirmation for the DHS position.

As reported by Politico Pro, an excerpt of the CBC letter reads:

“A police commissioner who acts outside the law and below the radar has no place in an administration that values transparency, accountability and compliance with the United States Constitution. … We ask you to deny consideration of Mr. Kelly’s name as a candidate for the position DHS Secretary. We cannot quietly entertain the nomination of a man who has wantonly usurped the constitutional rights of minority populations in the name of ‘safety,’ especially with dismal results.”

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s data collection efforts, less-than-favorable internal audits of the NSA’s monitoring efforts, ongoing debates about surveillance measures taking place overseas and in the United States, and what can only be called creatively bungled synaptic responses by the President and members of his team about civil liberties and all of the rest of these issues, there is no way a Ray Kelly nomination can navigate these iceberg, rock and mine-filled waters.

The “Stop and Frisk” debate only adds to these less ideal circumstances for Ray Kelly to enter into.

In addition to all of its other crushing duties, the top DHS leadership position calls for a more calming and reassuring voice and condition. In these current circumstances, Ray Kelly is not that guy, and this White House can barely handle the debates it has on its current plate without adding to them.

Furthermore, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case and the President’s own stirring comments about being profiled as a young black man, can you see him or his press shop defending “Stop and Frisk” to save a Kelly nomination? I can’t, and my bet is there are still a few seasoned political and press hands in the White House that don’t want that storyline to be raised in any shape or form.

Ray Kelly is a tough guy. He’s a grizzled Marine and decorated cop with success in the absolute toughest of environments. He helped keep the city that doesn’t sleep safe for nearly a dozen years, but in Cabinet nominations, timing and politics are essential ingredients.

None of those winds or conditions are in his favor at this time, which is why I think Ray Kelly will not be the next DHS Secretary.

Rich Cooper blog primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More