Former NYC cop to replace DHS chief Ridge

Former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik was named by President Bush Dec. 3 to replace Tom Ridge as secretary of the Homeland Security Department.

Kerik, who has been a strong Bush supporter, gained international attention during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 2000 named Kerik, a former NYPD street cop, to oversee the department. When term-limit laws forced Giuliani to step down as mayor three and a half months after the terrorist attacks, Kerik went with him as a security consultant with the firm of Giuliani Partners.

At Bush's urging in 2003, Kerik took an assignment in Iraq helping train the new Iraqi police force.

Kerik's nomination came after Ridge announced last month that he will step down from the post by February. Since his nomination to the position in October 2001, Ridge has overseen critical steps in the development of DHS' systems infrastructure, including the creation of its initial enterprise architecture and moves to consolidate the systems of its 22 component agencies.

DHS came under criticism repeatedly during Ridge's tenure. Groups ranging from the Government Accountability Office to independent homeland security analysts, privacy advocates and lawmakers found fault with the department and Ridge's leadership of it.

He has had to defend the department's work to integrate its own systems, merge terrorist watch lists, create an entry-exit system for the nation's borders, and craft systems for pinpointing risky passengers and cargo.

Kerik's appointment is conditional on Senate approval.

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