Bernard Kerik Next Homeland Security Secretary?

Newsday.com: Kerik tops list to be Homeland chief (Newsday)

Former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik is the likely choice to head the federal Homeland Security Department during President George W. Bush’s second term, according to sources close to Homeland Security officials. Kerik would replace Tom Ridge, the first head of the department, who on Tuesday announced his intention to resign once a successor is in place. Kerik, 49, served as police commissioner for 16 months during 2000 and 2001 and gained national prominence during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He previously was city corrections commissioner. After leaving the police post, he undertook a mission for the Bush administration to help train Iraqi police. He earned his spurs as a Bush political loyalist by delivering a prime-time speech praising the president during the Republican convention and campaigning for him in the fall.

Speculation about a move to Washington increased recently when Kerik sold $5-million worth of stock in Taser, the stun-gun manufacturer. The White House declined to comment on the appointment last night.

Gov. George Pataki sang Kerik’s praises during remarks delivered yesterday at the World Trade Center. “Look at his record,” Pataki said. “Look at his experience. He knows this country. And not only does he have tremendous experience leading New York in one of our most difficult times, he’s also been involved in Iraq and in other global issues. So I think he’d be terrific.” Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) also praised Kerik, saying he “would be a terrific choice, great for the country and great for New York. He has the organizational skills as commissioner of the largest police force in the country and the street smarts of a tough New York City cop.”

Kerik isn’t a household name but would actually be a stellar choice. Aside from a huge name like Rudy Guiliani or Joe Lieberman, it would be harder to come up with a bolder nominee.

(via Steven Taylor)

FILED UNDER: Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kappiy says:

    “After leaving the police post, he undertook a mission for the Bush administration to help train Iraqi police… He earned his spurs as a Bush political loyalist by delivering a prime-time speech praising the president during the Republican convention and campaigning for him in the fall.”

    If this is part of his resume, Kerik seems to be a shoo-in given the fact that some of Bush’s second term appointments seem to have two things in common: 1) utter failure at the positions held during the first 4 years (e.g. Rice & Gonzalez) 2) uncritical fealty to Bush’s political machine (e.g. Rice & Gonzalez).

    If the Homeland Security workers perform as well as the Iraqi police we re in for a fun 4 years!

  2. James Joyner says:

    It’s true that the Iraqi police are having problems. On the other hand, it’s only been a few months and Kerik essentially had to start from scratch. Most police forces–like the Homeland Security employees–have several generations of institutional experience.

  3. kappiy says:

    Sure, it is probably unfair to say that Kerik’s failure in Iraq to train a viable security force is simply the result of his personal failings.

    However, this guy has absolutely no experience managing a large and diverse bureaucracy. Sure, New York is the country’s largest city–but the Police Department has around 38,000 officers and a $3.5 billion budget. It’s entire function is policing–a very localized and singular task.

    Homeland Security has almost 200,000 employees and a $40.2 billion budget. It deals with a wide array of different tasks: Secret service, aviation ssecurity, immigration, biosurvellance, research and development grants, etc…

    A guy whose only qualificaitons are as a Chief of Police doesn’t come near to being able to deal with this sprawling bureaucracy.

    Ridge was a governor of a large state and was, theoretically, prepared to deal with managing a diverse agency.

    This guy Kerik is a political hack–just like his comrades Condi Rice and Al Gonzalez.

    For someone who has consistently called for promotion based on “merit,” Bush seems to be acting exactly the opposite by engaging in a Tamanny Hall machine policy of patronage, ignoring basic qualifications for these important jobs.

  4. Attila Girl says:

    I love the idea of hiring a “real cop” for this job–somene not too divorced from the realities of the people actually doing the real work. I like the idea that he could actually think through the typical day of someone in the Coast Guard and figure out what it is that they actually do.