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Chertoff Selected as Ridge Replacement

President George W. Bush has nominated Federal Appeals Judge Michael Chertoff, a former assistant to John Ashcroft and a primary player in the prosecution and conviction of American Taliban member John Walker Lindh, to replace Tom Ridge as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Before he was nominated to the federal bench by Bush in 2003, Chertoff was a prosecutor who headed the criminal division of the Department of Justice. former prosecutor who helped oversee the Justice Department's antiterrorism efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks, to succeed Tom Ridge as homeland security secretary.

"When Mike is confirmed by the Senate, the Department of Homeland Security will be led by a practical organizer, a skilled manager and a brilliant thinker," Bush claimed.

Chertoff, who was at the Justice Department on Sept. 11, 2001, is known for his aggressive support of the Patriot Act and his successful prosecution of Lindh. Despite his support of many of the administration's policies, Chertoff has questioned the U.S. policy of holding suspected terrorists indefinitely without filing charges against them.

In his remarks, Chertoff said, "I will be proud to stand again with the men and women who form our front line against terror."

Members of Congress from both parties say Chertoff is likely to be confirmed, especially since he has been vetted and confirmed by Congress for three previous positions, although some Senate Democrats said they wanted to examine his counterterrorism record at the Justice Department closely before voting to confirm.

"I look forward to meeting with Judge Chertoff in the very near future to discuss many important issues, including the specific homeland security needs of New York as well as the many homeland security challenges confronting our nation," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, noted, "Michael Chertoff is a strong candidate for this important post. Since his time as chief of the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, prior to his appointment to the federal bench, Judge Chertoff has been a key figure in the nation's legal efforts to fight terrorism." She added her committee will hold a confirmation hearing as soon as possible.

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