Bush nominates Kerik for Secretary of Homeland Security for second term

Nicole Kurker-Stewart

President George W. Bush nominated Bernard Kerik, 49, to lead the Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 3, following current Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge’s announcement of resignation on Tuesday.

Kerik is a former New York City police commissioner whose past experience included leading the New York City Police Department through the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath. “The country is well aware of his courageous service in responding to the World Trade Center attack, his efforts to coordinate rescue and recovery work at Ground Zero,” one senior administration official said.

Bush referenced Kerik’s work in New York when he said Kerik “had great success in reducing crime in New York City.” He is a “dedicated, innovative reformer who insists on getting results,” Bush said. “His broad practical hands-on experience makes Bernie superbly qualified to lead the Department of Homeland Security,” Bush said.

Kerik is also supported by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and New York’s two senators, both of which are democrats. “If ever a state deserves to have a citizen appointed to [head the Department of] Homeland Security, it is New York,” said Senator Charles Schumer.

Kerik is described as a “proven crisis manager” with “credibility and firsthand understanding of the war on terror,” said a senior administration official.

Senator Hillary Clinton said, “Bernard Kerik knows firsthand the challenges and needs of New York and other high-threat areas. As a member of the president’s Cabinet, he can make that case every single day.” Officials of New York have long been concerned that they do not receive a sufficient share of federal homeland security money, considering the fact that New York City faces a heightened threat from terrorists.

Kerik is the latest effort by Bush to construct a cabinet for his new term. All Cabinet nominees must be confirmed by the Senate. In accepting the nomination, Kerik said, “I am deeply humbled and honored for the opportunity to serve you and this great country. Should I receive the consent of the Senate, I will devote every power I possess toward fulfilling the vital mission you have set before me and the Department of Homeland Security.”

Should Kerik attain the position of Secretary of Homeland Security, his duties would include working to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reducing America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimizing the damage from potential attacks and natural disasters.