President Bush has named a federal appeals court judge and former top Justice Department official to head the Department of Homeland Security.
In Michael Chertoff, the president chose a respected legal expert and manager. He is a former federal prosecutor who helped craft the Justice Department's anti-terrorism strategy after the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the United States.
President Bush said, "In all of his roles, Mike has shown a deep commitment to the cause of justice and an unwavering determination to protect the American people."
The president said Judge Chertoff is a man of exceptional judgment and integrity. He said he is confident his nominee will provide strong and effective leadership for the Department of Homeland Security: "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 emphasized two points. He said Michael Chertoff knows how to work with local emergency and law enforcement officials, noting his experience as head of the Justice Department's criminal division from 2001 to 2003. He also stressed Judge Chertoff's work with various rights groups.
In accepting the nomination, Mr. Chertoff said protecting individual rights is a priority: "If confirmed I pledge to devote all my energies to promoting our homeland security and, as important, to protecting our fundamental liberties."
Judge Chertoff was the president's second pick to replace Tom Ridge, who led the Department through its infancy. His first choice was former New York City police chief Bernard Kerik, who withdrew last month after questions surfaced about the immigration status of a woman he hired as a family housekeeper.