President Barack Obama is calling back a trusted counterterrorism adviser from his first term by nominating former top Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson as secretary of homeland security. Obama plans to announce Johnson's nomination tomorrow. He must be confirmed by the Senate before taking over the post most recently held by Janet Napolitano, who stepped down in August to become president of the University of California system. A senior Obama administration official today confirmed Johnson's selection, on condition of anonymity.
As general counsel at the Defense Department during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Johnson oversaw the escalation of the use of unmanned drone strikes, the revamping of military commissions to try terrorism suspects rather than using civilian courts, and the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members. The official said Obama chose Johnson because of his experience as a national security leader. The official noted that Johnson oversaw the work of more than 10,000 lawyers and was responsible for reviewing every military operation approved by the president and defense secretary. (In other DC staffing news, the White House announced today that NSA director Keith Alexander will depart next year, USA Today reports.)