Chertoff, Michael

Chertoff, Michael,

1953–, U.S. government official, b. Elizabeth, N.J., grad. Harvard (B.A., 1975, J.D., 1978). A lawyer, Chertoff was an assistant federal prosecutor in New York (1983–87) and New Jersey (1987–90) before becoming U.S. attorney for New Jersey (1990–94). Subsequently in private practice, he also served (1994–96) as special counsel to the U.S. Senate committee that investigated WhitewaterWhitewater,
popular name for a failed 1970s Arkansas real estate venture by the Whitewater Development Corp., in which Governor (later President) Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, were partners; the name is also used for the political ramifications of this
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. Under President George W. BushBush, George Walker,
1946–, 43d President of the United States (2001–9), b. New Haven, Conn. The eldest son of President George H. W. Bush, he was was raised in Texas and, like his father, attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and Yale, graduating in 1968.
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, he was (2001–3) assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Dept.'s criminal division, where, after the Sept., 2001, terror attacks, he advocated expanding government powers to deal with terrorism, including detaining terror suspects without charging them by declaring them "material witnesses." That policy became especially controversial when most such detainees were subsequently not linked to terrorist groups. Appointed to the federal appeals bench in 2003, Chertoff returned to the executive branch (2005–9) as President Bush's homeland security secretary, succeeding Tom RidgeRidge, Tom
(Thomas Joseph Ridge), 1945–, U.S. politician and government official, first secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security (2003–5), b. Munhall, Pa.
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. Chertoff's, and his department's, response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina (2005) were criticized in a 2006 congressional report.