President Obama today nominated the Pentagon's former top lawyer to help craft US counterterrorism policy as secretary of the Homeland Security Department, suggesting a shift from the department's emphasis on immigration and border security. Jeh C. Johnson, whose first name is pronounced "Jay," would replace Janet Napolitano, who left the post last month to become president of the University of California system. Obama said he was nominating Johnson because of his "deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the United States."
He credited Johnson with helping design and implement policies to dismantle the core of the al-Qaeda terror organization overseas and to repeal the ban on openly gay service members in the US military. "He's been there in the Situation Room, at the table in moments of decision," Obama said in the Rose Garden. Johnson, a multimillionaire lawyer outside of his government posts, said he was motivated to do something to help the country in response to 9/11. "I was not looking for this opportunity," Johnson said. "But when I received the call, I could not refuse it." (Read more Jeh Johnson stories.)