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Cordero & Rosenzweig: DHS is broken. Here’s what it needs in a boss.

August 31, 2020

Note: This piece was originally published in The Washington Post, and was written by Checks & Balances members Carrie Cordero and Paul Rosenzweig.

Before both parties had finished their conventions, speculation had already begun about the nature of the Cabinet in the next administration. Oddly, much of that speculation ignores the Department of Homeland Security. Perhaps it’s because nobody really wants the job. And now, President Trump has indicated his intent to nominate the current acting secretary, Chad Wolf, to the position in which the Government Accountability Office says he has been illegitimately serving. The Senate may need to evaluate the qualifications and suitability of a DHS secretary sooner than we thought.

In reality, that may be the hardest Cabinet job to fill. To be sure, other executive leadership jobs are difficult. But most of them require specific expertise and set of qualifications or skills. The attorney general needs to know many aspects of the law, but in the end, he or she is just a lawyer. Likewise, the secretary of state has to understand the motivations of more than 190 other nations around the globe, but diplomacy is his or her provenance. The director of national intelligence, by statute, is required to have extensive national security expertise.

The span of responsibility for DHS, though, may well be the broadest of any single Cabinet department — and, thus, the scope of experience we look for in the secretary is equally broad. The secretary should have experience in law enforcement, to guide the largest cadre of law enforcement officers in the federal government. Likewise, it helps if the secretary understands and has experience in counterterrorism, since preventing the next terrorist attack on America is, almost by definition, the department’s core function.

Continue reading at The Washington Post.

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