Post Date: February 18, 2005

“In the wake of September 11th, the job of protecting the homeland has taken on an urgency as never before,” said Chertoff in his first speech after assuming his new position. “All of us were touched by September 11th. Some of us lost loved ones and friends. All of us saw the devastation that was inflicted on the American public, and we experience to this day the consequences of that.”

As the homeland security secretary, Chertoff holds one of the most critical positions in the U.S. government. Created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the department is charged with, among other responsibilities, “preventing terrorist attacks within the United States.” The department consists of 22 different government agencies with more than 180,000 employees worldwide.

Chertoff previously served as the assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice, a position responsible for a range of anti-terrorism efforts. He has also served as United States circuit judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and as the U.S. attorney in New Jersey.