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12 January 2005

Maps from Mapquest. Aerial photos from USGS Seamless

New York Times, January 12, 2005

Bush Names Judge as Homeland Security Secretary


WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 - President Bush on Tuesday nominated Michael Chertoff, a federal appeals judge and former prosecutor who helped oversee the Justice Department's antiterrorism efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks, to succeed Tom Ridge as homeland security secretary. [more]


New York Times, January 12, 2005


Michael Chertoff

BORN: Nov. 28, 1953, Elizabeth, N.J.

HOMETOWN: Somerset County, N.J.

EDUCATION: B.A., Harvard University; J.D., Harvard Law School

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Clerk to Justice William J. Brennan Jr. of the United States Supreme Court, 1979-80; associate, Latham & Watkins law firm (Washington), 1980-83; assistant United States attorney for southern district of New York, 1983-87; first assistant United States attorney and then United States attorney for New Jersey, 1987-94; special counsel to the Whitewater Committee, United States Senate, 1994-96; partner Latham & Watkins (New Jersey), 1994-2001; assistant attorney general, criminal division, Department of Justice, 2001-2003; judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 2003 to the present.

FAMILY: Married to Meryl Justin; one son and one daughter.


Michael Chertoff

Property Transfers
September 30, 2003
By: infoUSA/Donnelley Marketing of Ames, Iowa

Michael Chertoff, 15 Olde Town Ct, Bernardsville, NJ    $1,150,000,    8/19/03


Attorney General John Ashcroft, right, meets reporters at the Justice Department in Washington Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2002 to announce the Bush administration will charge American Taliban John Walker Lindh with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals in Afghanistan. Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff looks on at left. (AP Photo/Joe Marquette)


Attorney General John Ashcroft, second from left, accompanied by other officials. gestures during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington Thursday, Aug. 1, 2002 to discuss WorldCom. Two former WorldCom executives were charged Thursday with hiding billions in expenses and lying to investors and regulators in a desperate bid to keep the company afloat. From left are, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, head of the Department of Justice's criminal division and DeputyAttorney General Larry Thompson. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)


Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, center, and other officials hold a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Wednesday Aug. 21, 2002, to discuss Michael Kopper, a top Enron financial official, pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud. Thompson heads the government team formed to weed out corporate misdeeds. From left to right are, Steve Cutler, SEC Chief Enforcement official, Alice Fisher, of the Justice Department Criminal Division and Michael Chertoff, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)


Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff meets reporters at the Justice Deparment in Washington Thursday, Feb. 21, 2002 after a federal judge revoked the citizenship of John Demjanjuk, agreeing with government allegations that he guarded Nazi death camps during World War II. Demjanjuk could be extradited to face criminal charges in a country whose citizens were killed in the death camps, Chertoff said.(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)


Michael Chertoff, hands raised, U.S. Assistant Attorney General and head of the Criminal Division for the U.S. Justice Department, addresses an issue during a town hall-style meeting on racial profiling as Frank Wu, left, a Howard University professor and mediator Joie Chen, right, listen, Thursday Aug. 8, 2002, during the Asian American Journalist Association convention in Dallas, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


Senate Whitewater Committee Chairman Sen. Alfonse D'amato, R-N.Y. ponders a reporter's question prior to the start of a hearing of the committee on Capitol Hill Thursday Feb. 1, 1996. The committee's majority counsel Michael Chertoff is at left. (AP Photo/J.Scott Applewhite)


U.S. Attorney Rudolf Giuliani stands with his prosecutors, from left to right, John Savarese, Michael Chertoff, lead prosecutor, and Gil Childers on Jan. 13, 1987 in New York. President Bush on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2005 chose federal appeals court judge Michael Chertoff to be his new Homeland Security chief, turning to a former federal prosecutor who helped craft the early war on terror strategy. (AP Photo/Mario Suriani)


Senate Whitewater Committee Chairman Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., left, gestures while talking to Majority Counsel Michael Chertoff, center, and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., prior to a hearing of the committee on Capitol Hill Wednesday June 5, 1996. The committee was to hold hearings on the granting of immunity to former Arkansas banker David Hale who plead guilty to charges in the Whitewater case. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

New York Times, January 12, 2005

Bush Names Judge as Homeland Security Secretary


WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 - President Bush on Tuesday nominated Michael Chertoff, a federal appeals judge and former prosecutor who helped oversee the Justice Department's antiterrorism efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks, to succeed Tom Ridge as homeland security secretary.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Federal Judge Michael Chertoff listened to President Bush's announcement of his nomination
to be secretary of homeland security.

Mr. Bush made the announcement a month and a day after his original choice to succeed Mr. Ridge, Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, withdrew his nomination amid legal and ethical questions.

In Judge Chertoff, Mr. Bush chose another veteran of law enforcement in the New York region who, as the president pointedly noted, has been confirmed three times by the Senate to previous posts, the last in 2003.

"When Mike is confirmed by the Senate, the Department of Homeland Security will be led by a practical organizer, a skilled manager and a brilliant thinker," Mr. Bush said.

He praised Judge Chertoff as having an "impressive record of cutting through red tape and moving organizations into action."

In brief remarks, Judge Chertoff recalled helping respond to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as head of the criminal division at the Justice Department and said that if confirmed, "I will be proud to stand again with the men and women who form our front line against terror."

Judge Chertoff has a well-documented if at times controversial record on issues related to fighting terrorism. As the Justice Department, he favored aggressive steps like holding Muslim immigrants for questioning and passage of the USA Patriot Act to give the government more antiterrorism tools.

In 2003, he argued before an appeals court that a terror suspect who faced a federal trial, Zacarias Moussaoui, was not entitled to question an operative of Al Qaeda who was held overseas as an enemy combatant.

Mr. Moussaoui's case, which has stalled, and the collapse of a terrorism case in Detroit amid accusations of prosecutorial misconduct, are among the few missteps in a record that includes the successful prosecutions of John Walker Lindh, an American captured in Afghanistan, and accused Qaeda sympathizers in Lackawanna, N.Y.

Since leaving the Justice Department, Judge Chertoff has questioned the administration's policy of holding enemy combatants indefinitely without charge or trial.

"We need to debate a long-term and sustainable architecture for the process of determining when, why and for how long someone may be detained as an enemy combatant, and what judicial review should be available," he wrote in The Weekly Standard in December 2003.

Judge Chertoff was the administration's leading prosecutor on corporate fraud, leading the case in the Enron scandal that led to the collapse of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm. At one point, the White House considered appointing him to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.

At the Homeland Security Department, Judge Chertoff will confront a sprawling bureaucracy created out of 22 agencies to protect against another terrorist strike. Mr. Ridge, a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania who informed Mr. Bush after the election that he intended to step down, was widely credited with getting the department up and running. There has been no terrorist attack on his watch.

But many Democrats and some Republicans faulted Mr. Ridge as not doing enough to fight for bigger budgets or to improve security at nuclear and chemical plants and ports.

Judge Chertoff's nomination is sure to draw intense scrutiny from the New York Congressional delegation, given New York City's status as a primary terrorism target and the region's efforts to assure that it receives what it considers its fair share of money to improve security.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said that in a conversation on Tuesday Judge Chertoff acknowledged the need to make the full financing and improved coordination of security issues "a very high priority."

The nomination was generally well received on Capitol Hill, where members of both parties predicted that he would be confirmed.

A former federal prosecutor in New York and New Jersey, Judge Chertoff was confirmed in 2003 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, 88 to 1.

The lone vote against him was by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who had tangled with him while he was special counsel to the Senate panel that investigated the Whitewater affair in Bill Clinton's presidency. In a statement, Mrs. Clinton said she would give the nomination "careful consideration."

The son of a New Jersey rabbi, Judge Chertoff has earned a reputation as a tough-minded prosecutor with a razor-sharp legal mind. He led the prosecution of Sol Wachtler, who was chief justice of New York, for harassing a former lover and threatening to kidnap her daughter.

His tactics have sometimes drawn criticism, particularly when he became a chief architect of the legal response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

After the collapse of Mr. Kerik's nomination, Judge Chertoff represents a safe choice because he is such a known quantity here.

The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said the White House had originally been under the impression that Judge Chertoff would be unwilling to give up his seat on the federal bench, which has lifetime tenure. But Mr. McClellan said that when the White House contacted Judge Chertoff, he signaled he would be interested in the domestic security post.

Mr. Bush met Judge Chertoff on Saturday morning at the White House to discuss the post, Mr. McClellan said. The White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., then spoke with Judge Chertoff. On Sunday morning, the president called Judge Chertoff to offer the post, Mr. McClellan said.

As a federal prosecutor in New Jersey, Judge Chertoff oversaw organized crime prosecutions but was perhaps best known for his case against "Crazy Eddie" Antar, an appliance dealer whose photo later hung on his wall at the Justice Department.

At the department, Judge Chertoff was responsible for essentially reshaping its mission after Sept. 11, adopting a much more aggressive policy intended to prevent attacks rather than simply prosecuting them after they were carried out.

He helped lead the push to expand surveillance under the Patriot Act. That law and the broader push to increase government power to fight terrorists, drew criticism that the administration was sacrificing civil liberties. Judge Chertoff was among those often cited by critics for having pushed the pendulum too far. In the administration, he won high marks.

"Mike was a true agent of change after 9/11, and he took us into a mindset of prevention," said Viet Dinh, a former senior Justice Department official who also worked with Judge Chertoff on the Whitewater case. "He can do the same thing with homeland security, develop a vision and a consensus and build toward that, moving from disparate components with different interests into a common mission. That will be his first order of business, not to consolidate but to coordinate."

If confirmed, Judge Chertoff faces the task of easing the growing pains of an agency that answers to many masters. More than 80 Congressional panels claim oversight. Internal audits have pointed to failings in areas like developing a watch list and ensuring cost-effective contracts.

New York Times, January 12, 2005


Nominee Is Hard Charger on Legal War on Terror


WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 - In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, senior Justice Department officials were scrambling to find new ways to prevent terror suspects from slipping away. Michael Chertoff, a tough-minded prosecutor who was in charge of the department's criminal division, pushed a new tactic - declaring suspects to be "material witnesses" and locking them up without charging them with any crime, just as Mr. Chertoff had done with mob figures before.

"Mike was the one pushing to say 'Hey, we ought to look at using this more aggressively against terrorists,' " a former senior Justice Department official recalled Tuesday. "He was the one who made us realize how this tool could be used legally."

The tactic would prove controversial, as many civil rights advocates objected to the department's detentions of dozens of uncharged terror suspects as material witnesses. But to his many supporters, the tactic was typical of Mr. Chertoff's willingness to use smart, aggressive and creative tactics to meet the newly urgent threat of terrorism.

Attorney General John Ashcroft had made clear that he wanted to charge terror suspects for "spitting on the sidewalk" if needed, just as Robert F. Kennedy had done with organized crime figures in the 1960's. For nearly two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Chertoff was the Bush administration's point man in that campaign.

Mr. Chertoff now takes on a new and equally daunting challenge as President Bush's selection to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a federal behemoth operating 22 agencies and 180,000 employees. If confirmed by the Senate, he will give up a lifetime appointment as a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which he joined in 2003 after leaving the Justice Department.

In naming Mr. Chertoff to replace Tom Ridge as secretary of homeland security, Mr. Bush called him "a key leader in the war on terror" and said that after the Sept. 11 attacks, "he understood immediately that the strategy in the war on terror is to prevent attacks before they occur."

Mr. Chertoff's name had not been widely circulated as a contender for the job, and his selection came as something of a surprise. But administration and Congressional officials said that after Mr. Bush's selection of Bernard B. Kerik imploded last month amid legal and ethical questions concerning Mr. Kerik, Mr. Chertoff was seen as a safe and relatively noncontroversial pick.

Mr. Chertoff, a rabbi's son who was born Nov. 28, 1953, in Elizabeth, N.J., first earned a reputation prosecuting mob cases as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan before moving to the United States attorney's office in Newark and being named in 1990 by President Bush to lead the office. After a stint in private practice, he returned in 2001 to head up the Justice Department's criminal division.

Even some critics who took issue with the department's aggressive antiterror tactics under Mr. Chertoff's leadership said they respected his legal intellect and integrity. They noted that Mr. Chertoff was willing at times to distance himself from administration policies, as he did in an opinion article in 2003 for The Weekly Standard in which he questioned the practice of holding enemy combatants indefinitely without charges.

"He was an aggressive prosecutor, but he was never an ideologue," said David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University who has been a frequent critic of the Justice Department and has debated Mr. Chertoff several times. "We've differed on many aspects of the war on terrorism, but I think he's a thoughtful and independent thinker on a lot of these issues, and not insensitive to civil liberties concerns."

The Justice Department claimed a number of high-profile convictions in terrorism cases during Mr. Chertoff's tenure, but it suffered from a number of missteps as well.

A report by the department's inspector general last year was sharply critical of the department's actions in detaining more than 700 illegal immigrants after the Sept. 11 attacks, most of whom turned out to have no connections to terrorism.

In addition, the case against Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in an American court in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, has been stalled for two years.

One of the department's best-known convictions under Mr. Chertoff came against John Walker Lindh, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after admitting he had supported the Taliban in Afghanistan. That case also created complications for Mr. Chertoff when he was nominated to the federal bench; some Democrats questioned his explanation as to why the F.B.I. was allowed to interview Mr. Lindh after his family hired a lawyer to represent him.

Mr. Chertoff defended the department against charges that it was insensitive to civil liberties concerns. "We are in a time of war," he told a meeting of the American Bar Association in 2002. "If you step back and look at the total picture, the government has been very restrained."

Mr. Chertoff joined the United States attorney's office in Manhattan in 1983. He had barely finished his first year when his supervisor, Barbara S. Jones, now a federal judge, picked him to work on a unique organized crime investigation alongside the head of the office, United States attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The goal was to build a case against the commission made up of the five Mafia families that ran organized crime in New York. Mr. Giuliani was going to serve as the lead trial prosecutor, but a brewing New York City scandal erupted in early 1986, and Mr. Giuliani chose to try that case instead. Mr. Chertoff became the lead prosecutor in a case that would not only make headlines, but history. He and his trial team convicted the leaders of the Genovese, Colombo and Lucchese crime families, as well as a captain of the Bonannos, and he earned a reputation as a gifted trial lawyer.

Moving to the Newark prosecutor's office, Mr. Chertoff became the first assistant at 33. He became the interim United States attorney and was named to the post in 1990 by President George Bush.

Robert Mintz, a deputy to Mr. Chertoff on organized crime cases, said Mr. Chertoff had won over even critics by "handling the most difficult cases and really putting his own reputation on the line in cases that could have blown up in his face."

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting from New York for this article, and Laura Mansnerus from Trenton.

Nancy H. Becker Associates
Public Affairs, Lobbying, Public Relations



Meryl Justin Chertoff
Vice President and Legislative Counsel

MERYL JUSTIN CHERTOFF is vice president and legislative counsel for the firm.

Meryl served as director of New Jersey’s Washington, D.C. Office under both Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco and Governor James E. McGreevey. As director of that office, she represented the Garden State’s interests before Congress, White House staff and federal executive agencies. She also briefed the governor and senior staff on legislative and regulatory issues, particularly health care and transportation issues. As the governor’s primary Washington contact following the September 11, 2001 attacks, she spearheaded state efforts to secure earmarks and grants for New Jersey homeland security and transportation projects from Congress and federal agencies as part of the state’s relief and recovery efforts.

After leaving the governor’s office in 2002, Meryl joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the disaster response branch chief, Office of Legislative Affairs, participating in the agency’s transition into the Department of Homeland Security. During her tenure at FEMA, Meryl briefed members of Congress and their staffs on the status of response and recovery efforts following natural and technological disasters, including Hurricane Lili and the Shuttle Columbia disaster. Among other responsibilities, Meryl communicated to the New York Congressional delegation on the status of long-term recovery in the World Trade Center disaster, and served on FEMA’s task force on external communications, part of the transition into the Department of Homeland Security.

Meryl’s professional experience includes serving as legislative counsel for former New Jersey Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger (22nd District), and as an adjunct instructor at Seton Hall University School of Law.

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe College, Meryl earned a degree from Harvard Law School and is a member of the bar in New Jersey and New York.

Meryl is a 2000 Christine Todd Whitman Excellence in Public Service Series Scholar and a member of the program’s board of trustees. Also in 2000, she earned a New Jersey Region Anti-Defamation League Distinguished Service in Civil Rights Award. In addition, Meryl is a member of the Center for Civic Engagement and Volunteerism Advisory Board; a member of the Board of Directors and the campaign cabinet, Somerset County United Way; a former trustee of the United Fund of Westfield and former co-chair of its Residential Division.

Doug Forrester, 2002 candidate for U.S. Senate from New Jersey, and Meryl Chertoff, vice president and legislative counsel for Nancy Becker Associates, attend the April 2004 fund-raising breakfast for the Christine Todd Whitman Excellence in Public Service Series.