The Corner

McCain Tears into Homeland Security Nominee on Oversight Issues

Senator John McCain said he would not vote for the Obama administration’s secretary of Homeland Security nominee, Jeh Johnson, unless Johnson agreed to provide specific metrics for how the U.S. could achieve 90 percent control of the border. (The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest components.)

During Johnson’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, McCain repeatedly asked Johnson for a “yes” or “no” answer about whether he would give the committee that information. Johnson refused, saying that he was “inclined” to, but that he would need to speak with other people in DHS to see if he could get the senator what he needed.

The DHS has a history of not releasing complete statistics on border security. Under Secretary Janet Napolitano, the DHS released data on how many illegal immigrants it apprehended while refusing to provide other information it collected on how many such people evaded capture, what percentage of the total amount of illegal immigrants the DHS captured, and more.

McCain, having been frustrated in past attempts to get this information, said, “I don’t think that’s a lot to ask. . . . Unless you can tell me that you will give me the information that this committee has the right to have, I cannot support your nomination.”

Jeh Johson previously worked as a lawyer in the Defense Department and was nominated by President Obama in October to head the DHS. Johnson was a major fundraiser for Obama who helped establish the legal framework for drone strikes and pushed to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Even the senators who asked the most pointed questions in the hearing, such as McCain and senator Rand Paul, expressed respect for Johnson’s abilities and previous accomplishments.

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