President Obama reportedly will select Jeh Johnson to succeed Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Johnson is a New York lawyer. He served as General Counsel of the Defense Department during Obama’s first term.
I’m not a fan of Johnson, with whom I had some slight, peripheral contact when I practiced law. I criticized his manipulative role in ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” here.
I expected that Johnson would succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General when the lawless one finally stepped down. I’m glad he won’t be assuming that position, at least not anytime soon.
But head of DHS in some ways is an even more important post. And I don’t find it encouraging that late last year, addressing the Oxford Union, Johnson declared: “Now that the efforts by the U.S. military against al Qaeda are in their 12th year, we must ask ourselves, how will this conflict end?”
Soon afterwards, Obama echoed the sentiment, saying: “This war, like all wars, must end” and “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.”
Unfortunately, the fight against terrorism is defined by what terrorists attempt to accomplish. Thus, as much as we would like to, we cannot “define the nature and scope of this struggle;” nor can we end it because we think it’s high time for it to end. If we wish to fight terrorism successfully, we must be prepared to combat it in all of its forms, with special focus on the terrorists’ methods of choice, which are always evolving.
Johnson doesn’t seem temperamentally suited to this work. Like Obama, he is too prone to ask “are we there yet?”