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Jeh Johnson confirmed as new US Homeland Security chief

Published on Dec 17, 2013 9:25 AM
Mr Jeh Johnson testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in November 2013 in Washington, DC. The US Senate on Monday, Dec 16, 2013,  easily confirmed the former top Pentagon lawyer to be the next head of the Department of Homeland Security. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States Senate on Monday easily confirmed Jeh Johnson, a former top Pentagon lawyer, to be the next head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Mr Johnson will be the first African-American to lead the huge department, and only the fourth person to head DHS since it was created by then President George W. Bush in 2002, one year after the 9/11 attacks.

Mr Johnson won confirmation 78-16. He could be sworn in as early as this week in order to begin immediately tackling some departmental priorities including stiffening border security, upgrading airport protections and improving immigration enforcement operations.

"Mr Johnson has served as the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, referring to the Pentagon, where Mr Johnson oversaw a legal team of thousands.

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