WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal judge Michael Chertoff, who testified against torture and preached the need to protect civil liberties, has won Senate confirmation to head the U.S. Homeland Security Department.
The Senate on Tuesday approved President George W. Bush’s nomination of the former U.S. assistant attorney general to succeed Tom Ridge as secretary of the department created after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The vote completed Senate action on Bush’s second-term cabinet, though he still must fill some key, non-cabinet jobs — like the newly created post of director of national intelligence.
Democrats and Republicans praised Chertoff for agreeing to give up a lifetime job as a federal appeals court judge to accept the tough task of bolstering national security.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, noted that Chertoff explained his reason why at a confirmation hearing earlier this month before her homeland security committee.
“The call to serve in helping protect America was the one call I could not decline,” Collins quoted Chertoff as saying.