(1953 - )
Michael Chertoff was nominated by President George
W. Bush on January 11, 2005, to succeed Tom Ridge as Secretary of
the United States Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff has served
as a United States Court of Appeals judge, federal prosecutor and assistant
U.S. Attorney General.
Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Chertoff attended Harvard University,
graduating in 1975. He then graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law
School in 1978, going on to clerk for appellate judge Murray Griffin
for a year before clerking for United States Supreme Court justice William
Brennan from 1979 to 1980. He worked in private practice with Latham
& Watkins from 1980 to 1983 before being hired as a prosecutor by
Rudolph Giuliani, then the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, working on mafia
and political corruption-related cases.
Being the son of a rabbi,
Chertoff is also known to have strong ties to the Jewish community.
Both of his children have attended Jewish private schools, and his wife,
Meryl, was a co-chairwomen of the regional Anti-Defamation League's
civil rights committee.
In 1987, Chertoff joined the office of the U.S. Attorney
for the state of New Jersey and was appointed by President George H.W.
Bush as United States Attorney for the state in 1990. Chertoff was asked
to stay in his position after President Clinton took office in 1993
at the request of Democratic Senator Bill Bradley making him the sole
Republican U.S. attorney not replaced by the new administration. Chertoff
stayed with the U.S. Attorney's office until 1994, when he entered private
practice, returning to Latham & Watkins as a partner.
Chertoff later served as special counsel for the Senate
committee during the Whitewater investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
When Chertoff faced Senate confirmation in 2003 for a federal judgeship,
Hillary Rodham Clinton, then a Senator from New York, cast the lone
dissenting vote against Chertoff's confirmation, explaining that her
vote was in protest of the way junior White House staffers were "very
badly treated" by Chernoff's staff during the Whitewater investigation.
In 2000, Chertoff worked as special counsel to the
New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee, investigating racial profiling
in New Jersey. He also did some fundraising for George W. Bush and other
Republicans during the 2000 election cycle and advised Bush's presidential
campaign on criminal justice issues. From 2001 to 2003, he headed the
criminal division of the Department of Justice, leading the prosecutions
case against terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui and against accounting
firm Arthur Andersen for destroying documents relating to the Enron
collapse. There, he came under fire as one of the chief architects of
the Bush administration's legal strategies for fighting the war on terror.
One of the more controversial elements of this strategy was the detainment
of thousands of immigrants of Middle-Eastern descent. Chertoff also
was an instrumental figure in the drafting of the USA Patriot Act. His
input helped in the final indictment of a Florida-based alleged leader
of Islamic Jihad.
Chertoff was appointed to the Third Circuit Court of
Appeals in Philadelphia by George W. Bush on March 5, 2003, and was
confirmed by the Senate 88-1 on June 9. His confirmation to the Homeland
Security post was unanimously approved by the Senate on February 15,
Encyclopedia; The Observer, (January 14, 2005)