Full Senate Vote on Homeland Security Nominee Likely This Week

Feb. 8, 2005
The nomination of Michael Chertoff to succeed Tom Ridge as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security was approved by a voice vote taken Feb. 7 by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. The full Senate is expected to vote on the nomination before the end of the week.

A federal appeals court judge, Chertoff was a former federal prosecutor who helped oversee the Justice Department's antiterrorism efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks. Chertoff, along with new Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, helped craft the Bush Administration's policies related to the detention of hundreds of Arab, South Asian and Muslim men after 9/11, many of whom now claim they were tortured. The Senate confirmed Gonzales by a vote of 60-36 on Feb. 4.

During hearings before the Senate committee, Chertoff testified that while head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, he "made it very clear torture is illegal," adding that anyone who violated the statute faced prosecution.

"You are dealing in an area where there is potential criminal liability. You had better be very careful to make sure that whatever it is you decide to do falls well within what is required by the law," he added.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Chertoff's record does not match his rhetoric.

"Saying you're committed to upholding the Bill of Rights is one thing. Actually doing it is another. His actions show that in his zealousness to provide security, fundamental freedoms too often became an obstacle to overcome rather than a guidepost to follow," said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU legislative counsel.

As a matter of policy, the ACLU neither opposes nor endorses cabinet-level appointments, but it does examine and publicize nominees' civil liberties records. The ACLU issued a memorandum on Chertoff's civil liberties record that raised several issues.

The ACLU claims that because Chertoff and Gonzales helped create Bush Administration post 9/11 policies, they are too close to the issue to oversee any investigations.

The ACLU has called for a special counsel to investigate and prosecute any criminal acts by civilians in the torture or abuse of detainees by the U.S. government, saying that doing so is the only way to fairly, and independently, get to the bottom of the issue.

As a federal appeals judge, Chertoff ruled against foreigners in 14 of 18 immigration cases. In one case, Chertoff denied asylum to a Bangladeshi man who claimed he was arrested after joining a non-violent political rally and was beaten by police. The man provided proof the medical care he received.

"Chertoff has shown that he takes an extremely narrow view of what constitutes torture, a position that undermines the humanitarian provisions of our immigration policies," Anders said.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!