Obama nominates Jeh Johnson as next head of Homeland Security


Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson (L) and Major General Steven Hummer, Chief of Staff, Repeal Implementation Team, smile during a press conference on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on July 22, 2011, at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.



President Barack Obama nominated former Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson as the next head of Homeland Security Friday.

Obama said, "I'm confident I could not make a better choice than Jeh," and urged the Senate to quickly confirm Johnson's nomination.

"Jeh understands that this country is worth protecting — not because of what we build or what we own — but because of who we are," Obama said.

Johnson said he could not refuse the opportunity to serve when he received the call, despite settling into private law.

"I was present in Manhattan on 9/11," Johnson said, while accepting Obama's nomination.

The department has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for six weeks, and some Republicans have been increasingly pressuring the administration for a replacement.

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If confirmed, Johnson would replace Janet Napolitano, who resigned in July to lead the University of California system.

The coming nomination was first reported by The Daily Beast

As the Department of Defense's general counsel, Johnson was a central player in many of the Obama administration's most sensitive national security policies, including the ramping up of the drone program and the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning gays from openly serving in the military.

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Johnson, currently working as a private practice attorney, has called working for the Obama administration "the highlight of (his) professional life."