Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff, confirmed Feb 15 on a 98-0 vote of the U.S. Senate, today (Feb. 16) announced that John F. Wood, formerly counselor to the attorney general in the Department of Justice, would be his chief of staff and Brian R. Besanceny, formerly White House deputy director of communications, would serve as Homeland Security's assistant secretary for public affairs.
Chertoff took his oath of office the same day that Democrats, overcoming their concerns about secrecy in the Bush
administration, joined unanimously with Senate Republicans to make him the second member of the Jewish community to serve in the Bush Cabinet. Josh Bolten, director of the
Office of Management and
Budget, also is Jewish.
Before voting for confirmation, several Democratic senators including Carl Levin of Michigan and
Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut had expressed concern that the White House refused to turn over copies of e-mail that might have provided background on advice Chertoff had given on treatment of suspected terrorists when he served as head of the criminal division of the Justice Department. Since then Chertoff had served as a federal appeals court judge,
and gave up his life-long appointment to serve as a Cabinet officer.
Ten Jewish Senators voted in favor of Chertoff's nomination, but an eleventh--Sen.
Arlen Specter (R-Penn.)--was recorded as absent or not voting.