Kerik Withdraws as Homeland Security Nominee

Kerik Pulls Out as Bush Nominee for Homeland Security Job (NYT)

Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, abruptly withdrew his name from consideration to be President Bush’s secretary of homeland security late Friday night, citing questions related to the immigration status of a former household employee. Mr. Kerik’s swift fall – he was nominated only a week ago by President Bush to succeed Tom Ridge – came in a letter in which he called the offer “the honor of a lifetime” but said that “moving forward would not be in the best interest of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people.”

In reviewing his personal finances this week as he prepared for confirmation hearings, Mr. Kerik said in a statement issued late Friday, he determined that a housekeeper and nanny he had once employed was not clearly a legal immigrant and that he had not properly paid taxes on her behalf. “I uncovered information that now leads me to question the immigration status of a person who had been in my employ as a housekeeper and nanny,” Mr. Kerik said. “It has also been brought to my attention that for a period of time during such employment required tax payments and related filings had not been made.”

His lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said that Mr. Kerik called the president at 8:30 p.m. to inform him of the decision. The White House had not pressured him to withdraw, Mr. Tacopina said, but he decided he had to do so because as homeland security secretary, he would be in charge of supervising the nation’s immigration laws.

I thought the nanny issue was rather silly when Zoe Baird and others fell prey to it during the Clinton administration. Still, it’s rather embarrasing for someone who was going to be in charge of enforcing our immigration laws.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. It happened to Linda Chavez also–Bush’s initial pick for Labor.

  2. ken says:

    What is surpising is that someone Bush chose to serve him had the decency to realize his previous actions made him inelible for a position of trust.

    Now does anyone think Gonzales might likewise realize that his approval of torture disqualifies him from serving as Attorney General? It is certain Bush doesn’t care, but might Gonzales?

  3. Boyd says:

    Are you deliberately trying to be offensive, ken, or is “offensive” just the way you conduct yourself?

    I’ll refrain from addressing your snarky “decency” comment further, but you really need to understand the facts instead of spouting propaganda that supports your position, even if it’s misleading — or, as in this case, untrue.

    Gonzales’ memo provided a legal opinion on our obligations as a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. It’s merely fact that we are not legally obliged to adhere to the Conventions when the combatants represent a non-signatory state, nor for those who represent no state.

    It’s your choice whether you want to just repeat things that others tell you, or you want to examine the facts and come to your own conclusions.

  4. ken says:

    Boyed, can you find any other American jurist or statesmen who looked for a way to conduct torture? It is a matter of judgement. I would hope that any person giving legal advice to our president on the subject of torture would find ways to convince him it was not good idea instead of green lighting it. You suprise me. Are you even an American? It certainly cannot be in our interests to be seen as having the same moral standards as Stalin. Or could it?

  5. DC Loser says:

    “It’s merely fact that we are not legally obliged to adhere to the Conventions when the combatants represent a non-signatory state, nor for those who represent no state.”

    Funny…that’s exactly the same line of reasoning the Nazis used to justify their treatment of Soviet POWs.

  6. Anjin-San says:

    A sad commentary on Buhs’s America that having our own little torture chamber in Iraq does not seem to cause much outrage on the right… jeeze Ken where are your manners?

    Me, I am pretty F_____g offended that we have killed 100,000 citizens of a nation that was no threat to us and that the brass allowed a situation with Iraqi prisoners that disgraced our country.

  7. LJD says:

    I don’t consider having women’s panties put on your head to be torture. (Especially when aid workers are getting their heads chopped off for no apparent reason) …Unless you’re just so offended by contact with the OPPOSITE sex.

    The 100,000 number is absolute bullshit. The method with which body count compiles their stats is laughable.

    Keep plugging the nonsense though. It does so much to “disgrace our country”.

  8. LJD says:

    Oh, wait a second, this is about a nanny who was an illegal. I guess I got dragged into that one.

    Anyway, if he did NOT hire her BECAUSE she was an illegal, the left would be screaming discrimination!

  9. Boyd says:

    Never let facts or reality get in the way of your agenda, folks.

    Gonzales was asked if the Geneva Conventions applied to certain prisoners. He wasn’t asked “can (or should) we torture these guys?” He’s an expert in law, and he responded using that expertise.

    It sure didn’t take long for Godwin’s Law to rear its ugly head (which, I should point out, also states that I’ve lost the argument because I pointed out the applicability of Godwin’s Law to DC Loser’s post).

  10. DC Loser says:

    Invoking Godwin doesn’t magically validate your argument. If you’re going to argue that it’s okay to selectively determine who will be given Geneva Convention protection then the history of German treatment of Soviet POWs is directly relevant. If they’re not POWs then they should be prosecuted as criminals. What we’re doing with them in Gitmo is putting them in legal limbo with indefinite detention and no legal recourse for the prisoners.