President Obama will nominate Jeh Johnson, formerly the Pentagon’s top lawyer and a key figure in the administration’s debate over the legality of drone use, to head the Department of Homeland Security, according to White House officials.
The official announcement will take place Friday at the White House. Johnson, if confirmed by the Senate, would succeed Janet Napolitano, who announced she was leaving the Cabinet post in July.
As the former Defense Department general counsel, Johnson was responsible for the legal work at the nation’s largest bureaucracy. His job placed him at the center of some of Obama’s most important national security decisions, from the practice of targeted killings beyond America’s defined battlefields to the intervention in Libya.
“The president is selecting Johnson because he is one the most highly qualified and respected national security leaders,” said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the nomination before its announcement. “During his tenure at the Department of Defense, he was known for his sound judgment and counsel.”
The official added that Johnson was “responsible for the prior legal review and approval of every military operation approved by the president and secretary of defense” during Obama’s first term.
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