Leader and statesman, Michael Chertoff came to the job of 2nd Secretary of Homeland Security with a background heavy with experience in fighting terrorism, having served as the head of the Justice Department's criminal division in the months after Sept.11th. Overseeing the Department of Homeland Security, a federal behemoth operating 22 agencies and 180,000 employees and facing the daunting task of managing the risk of numerous threats to America’s security, Secretary Chertoff’s goal was to provide risk-based protection against the most significant threats, reduce major vulnerabilities, and mitigate potential consequences. He implemented programs and capabilitiesthat did not exist prior to September 11, to better equip the U.S. to deal with the threats of the 21st century across land, sea, and air.
In March 2009, Secretary Chertoff formed an advisory firm, The Chertoff Group, which counsels corporate and government clients on security and risk management issues, including threats related to terrorism, fraud, cyber security, border protection and supply chain security. The firm helps clients at each stage of the security process with a focus on prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. He is also senior of counsel in the white collar defense and investigations group at Covington & Burling LLP.
Prior to serving as Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary Chertoff was 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.
In 2003, after Mr. Chertoff had proved instrumental in winning approval of the Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism measures, President Bush appointed him as United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Before joining the Bush Administration, Chertoff was a Partner in the law firm of Latham & Watkins. His introduction to Washington came when he served as Special Counsel for the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee from 1994 to 1996. Prior to that, Chertoff spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor, including his appointment as United States Attorney in New Jersey by President George H.W. Bush.