Chertoff was previously confirmed by the Senate to serve in the Bush administration as assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. As assistant attorney general, he helped trace the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the al-Qaida network, and worked to increase information sharing within the FBI and with state and local officials.
Before joining the Bush administration, Chertoff was a partner in the law firm of Latham & Watkins. From 1994 to 1996, he served as special counsel for the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee.
Prior to that, Chertoff spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor, including service as U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, first assistant U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, and assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. As United States attorney, Chertoff investigated and prosecuted several significant cases of political corruption, organized crime, and corporate fraud.
Chertoff graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1975 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1978. From 1979-1980 he served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr.