DHS nominee advocated data-mining to spot terrorists

Michael Chertoff, the appeals court judge nominated by President Bush to become Homeland Security Department secretary, was an early advocate of using data mining to pinpoint terrorists.

From 2001 to 2003, as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Criminal Division, he spearheaded the legal counterattack against al-Qaida, sponsoring the use of advanced analytic techniques to probe diverse and vast financial records to mine evidence linking terrorists to their paymasters and to one another.

Of DOJ's anti-terrorist prosecutions, in testimony before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in January 2002, Chertoff said: "We are using computers to analyze information obtained in the course of criminal investigations to uncover patterns of behavior that, before the advent of such efficient technology, would have eluded us. ... In our search for terrorists and terrorist cells, we are employing technology that was previously used primarily by the business community."

Chertoff is a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Bush nominated him for that slot in March 2003. Before taking the helm at the Justice Department's Criminal Division, he spent seven years in private practice. From 1994 to 1996, Chertoff was special counsel to the Senate's Whitewater Committee. Before that, he did stints as a federal prosecutor and private lawyer as well as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr.

Chertoff received his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University.

"When Mike is confirmed by the Senate, the Department of Homeland Security will be led by a practical organizer, a skilled manager and a brilliant thinker," Bush said. *

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