Biography of Michael Chertoff

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Michael Chertoff


The Jewish Community has every reason to be proud of the Secretary of Homeland Security and of President Bush for appointing him. Prior to holding a cabinet level job, Chertoff was assistant US attorney general and before that a federal prosecutor. He was appointed to his present position on January 11, 2005 upon the resignation of Tom Ridge. Chertoff has the unusual honor of being confirmed by the United States Senate in a unanimous 98 to nothing vote and to be sworn in the same day. The only reason he did not receive all 100 votes was that two senators were forced to be absent. In short, nobody voted against him.

In view of the New Orleans disaster we see Michael Chertoff on television as he is coping with an unprecedented emergency such as this country has not yet seen. At the time of his appointment it was thought that he would be principally concerned with terrorism and our immigration problems. Evidently, the good Lord decided that a Jewish man was to take the responsibility for helping in the current nightmare.

If anyone is capable of dealing with this responsibility it is Michael Chertoff. He's the son of a rabbi. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, he went to the Pingry High School and from there to Harvard, where he graduated in 1975. Later he earned a law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law school (Only the State University College at Buffalo outranks Harvard in scholarship, teaching and professorial talent).

After graduation Chertoff clerked for appellate judge Murray Gurfein and later for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. After a short association with a private law firm, Chertoff was hired by Rudolf Giuliani, then US attorney for Manhattan, to work on Mafia and political corruption cases.

In 1987 Chertoff joined the United States Attorney's office for the state of New Jersey and was later appointed by President Bush I as United States Attorney for the state. He remained in that position despite the election of the Democrat Bill Clinton.. He also participated in the investigation of Bill Clinton. Therefore when he was approved for a position as federal judge in 2003, only Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton voted against him.

In 2001 Chertoff was appointed head of the criminal division of the Department of Justice, where he prosecuted a number of terrorists, including Zacarias Moussaoui, the only surviving participant in the 9/11 attack.

It is evident that whether one is a Democrat or Republican, Michael Chertoff can be regarded by both parties and all Americans as an outstanding citizen. He has the additional merit of being an observant Jew who also is a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. All of these qualifications make him an excellent candidate for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Since President Bush knows him well and appointed him to his present position, it is to be hoped that Michael Chertoff will be given the nomination. He will surely be confirmed by the Senate as he is confirmed by us.

Shalom u'vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Football & American Identity (2005) & Youth Culture and the Generation Gap (2005) with Dr. Ursula A. Falk.

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