Full Text Obama Presidency October 18, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Nomination of Jeh Johnson to be Secretary of Homeland Security



Remarks by the President at Nomination of Jeh Johnson to be Secretary of Homeland Security

Source: WH, 10-18-13

President Obama Nominates Jeh Johnson

President Obama Nominates Jeh Johnson

Rose Garden

2:06 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Please have a seat.  As President, my most solemn responsibility is the safety and security of the American people.  And we’ve got an outstanding team here of folks who work every single day to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to fulfill that responsibility.  And that means that our entire government — our law enforcement and homeland security professionals, our troops, our diplomats, our intelligence personnel — are all working together.  It means working with state and local partners to disrupt terrorist attacks, to make our borders more secure, respond to natural disasters, and make our immigration system more effective and fair.

Addressing any one of these challenges is a tall order.  Addressing all of them at once is a monumental task.  But that’s what the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security do every day.  And today I’m proud to announce my choice to lead them — an outstanding public servant who I’ve known and trusted for years — Mr. Jeh Johnson.

We are, of course, enormously grateful to Secretary Janet Napolitano.  Janet couldn’t be here today — she’s already made her move to her new position in sunny California, overseeing the higher education system in that great state.  And I know that she’s going to do an outstanding job there with the incredible young people that are in our largest state.  But we all deeply appreciate the terrific job that she did over the last four-and-a-half years.  I want to thank Rand Beers for his service and for stepping in as Acting Secretary after Janet left.

Thanks in no small part to Janet’s leadership, her team, we’ve done more to protect our homeland against those who wish to do us harm.  We’ve strengthened our borders.  We’ve taken steps to make sure our immigration system better reflects our values.  We’ve helped thousands of Americans recover from hurricanes and tornados, floods and wildfires.  And we’ve worked to clean up a massive oil spill in the Gulf as well as address a flu pandemic.

In Jeh Johnson, we have the right person to continue this important work.  From the moment I took office, Jeh was an absolutely critical member of my national security team, and he demonstrated again and again the qualities that will make him a strong Secretary of Homeland Security.

Jeh has a deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the United States.  As the Pentagon’s top lawyer, he helped design and implement many of the policies that have kept our country safe, including our success in dismantling the core of al Qaeda and in the FATA.

When I directed my national security team to be more open and transparent about how our policies work and how we make decisions, especially when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks, Jeh was one of the leaders who spoke eloquently about how we meet today’s threats in a way that are consistent with our values, including the rule of law.

Jeh also knows that meeting these threats demands cooperation and coordination across our government.  He’s been there in the Situation Room at the table in moments of decision, working with leaders from a host of agencies to make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction.  And he’s respected across our government as a team player, somebody who knows how to get folks who don’t always agree to work towards a common goal.

Jeh has experience leading large complex organizations.  As a member of the Pentagon’s senior management team, first under Bob Gates and then under Leon Panetta, he helped oversee the work of more than 3 million military and civilian personnel across the country and around the world.  And I think it’s fair to say that both former secretaries Gates and Panetta will attest to the incredible professionalism that Jeh brings to the job, and the bipartisan approach that, appropriately, he takes when it comes to national security.

He’s also earned a reputation as a cool and calm leader.  Jeh appreciates that any organization’s greatest asset is its people, and at the Pentagon he guided the report explaining why allowing our men and women in uniform to serve their country openly would not weaken our military.  Congress ended up using that report that Jeh helped to craft to justify repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  And America and our military are stronger because we did, in part because of Jeh’s determined leadership.  I know he will bring that same commitment to our hardworking folks at DHS.

And finally, Jeh believes, in a deep and personal way, that keeping America safe requires us also upholding the values and civil liberties that make America great.  Jeh tells the story of his uncle who was a member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.  And he and his fellow airmen served with honor, even when their country didn’t treat them with the dignity and the respect that they deserved.  And it was a lesson that Jeh never forgot.  “We must adopt legal positions that comport with common sense,” Jeh says, “consistent with who we are as Americans.”  Jeh is a pretty good lawyer, so he knows what that means.

And Jeh understands that this country is worth protecting –- not because of what we build or what we own, but because of who we are.  And that’s what sets us apart.  That’s why, as a nation, we have to keep adapting to changing threats, whether natural or man-made.  We have to stay ready when disaster strikes and help Americans recover in the aftermath.  We’ve got to fix our broken immigration system in a way that strengthens our borders, and modernizes legal immigration, and makes sure everybody is playing by the same rules.

And I’m confident that I could not make a better choice in Jeh, somebody who I’m confident is going to be moving not just the agency forward, but helping to move the country forward.

So, Jeh, thank you so much for agreeing to take on this very difficult and extraordinary mission.  You’ve got a great team over at DHS, and I know that they’re looking forward to having you over there.  I urge the Senate to confirm Jeh as soon as possible.  And I thank you, as well as your family, to agreeing to serve.  Your wife, Susan, and your daughter, Natalie, couldn’t be here because they’re visiting Jeh Jr. out at Occidental College, which, by the way, I went to for two years when I was young.  It’s a fine college.  I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to say hi to him.  But your son chose well.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to invite Jeh Johnson to say a few words, hopefully our next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  (Applause.)

MR. JOHNSON:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.

As you noted, my wife and two kids are not here because it’s parents’ weekend at Occidental, and thanks to the cost of a non-refundable airline ticket — (laughter) — they could not be in two places at once.  They wish they could be here.

Thank you for the tremendous honor of this nomination and the trust you have placed in me to carry out this large and important responsibility as Secretary of Homeland Security.  I was not looking for this opportunity — I had left government at the end of last year and was settling back into private life and private law practice.  But when I received the call, I could not refuse it.

I am a New Yorker, and I was present in Manhattan on 9/11, which happens to be my birthday, when that bright and beautiful day was — a day something like this — was shattered by the largest terrorist attack on our homeland in history.  I wandered the streets of New York that day and wondered and asked, what can I do?  Since then, I have tried to devote myself to answering that question.  I love this country.  I care about the safety of our people.  I believe in public service.  And I remain loyal to you, Mr. President.

If confirmed by the Senate, I promise all of my energy, focus, and ability toward the task of safeguarding our nation’s national and homeland security.

Thank you again, sir.  (Applause.)


2:14 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency February 6, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Nominating Sally Jewell for Secretary of the Interior



President Obama Names Sally Jewell to Lead the Department of the Interior

Source: WH, 2-6-13

President Obama Nominates Sally Jewell for Secretary of the InteriorPresident Barack Obama and Sally Jewell applaud outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after President Obama announced Jewell as his nominee to replace Salazar, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 6, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama nominates Sally Jewell for secretary of Interior (full transcript)

Source: WH, 2-6-13

(Also on POLITICO: Obama nominates REI chief Sally Jewell for Interior secretary)




State Dining Room

2:06 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.

Ken Salazar likes to say that the Department of the Interior is actually the Department of America.  Other members of my Cabinet may not entirely agree with that statement, but you can see where he’s coming from.  The Secretary of the Interior is in charge of overseeing 500 million acres of public land — including places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon — and protecting our natural heritage for our children and our grandchildren and their children to come.

But the job also requires keeping an eye on America’s future, and making smart decisions about how we create jobs and help businesses grow, and put ourselves on a path towards energy independence.  And that’s not always an easy balancing act, but with enthusiasm and skill and dedication, that’s exactly what Ken Salazar has done over the last four years.

We were just reminiscing a little bit — I’ve known Ken since we were both running for the Senate together and became the only two incoming Democrats in our Senate class — Pete Rouse remembers this.  It was a lonely time.  (Laughter.)  We actually lived in the same building when we first arrived in Washington.  And, Ken, you’ll recall it was a little discouraging because basically everyone else who lived there was 20 or 25.  (Laughter.)  So we were the two geriatrics in this building.

But I came to appreciate quickly not just his friendship — which, if you’ve got Ken Salazar as a friend, you’ve got a real friend.  Not only did I come to appreciate his jump shot — he is surprisingly quick on the court — (laughter) — but also his patriotism, and his belief that we’ve got a responsibility to care for the land with which we’ve been blessed.

And it’s not surprising that Ken feels this way — after all, his ancestors were living here before the Mayflower set sail.  As he explains it — and relevant, as we are working to get immigration reform passed — his family did not cross the border, the border crossed them.  (Laughter.)  And that’s why, when I needed somebody to lead Interior, I didn’t have to look very far.

Since being confirmed, Ken has cracked down on waste.  He’s improved the management of the Department to make it work better for the American people.  He has ushered in a new era of conservation for our land, our water and our wildlife.  He’s established seven new national parks, 10 new national wildlife refuges.  He has opened more public land and water for safe and responsible energy production, not just gas and oil but also wind and solar, creating thousands of new jobs and nearly doubling our use of renewable energy in this country.  He has helped to forge what is probably the strongest working relationship with tribal leaders that the federal government has seen in modern times.  And when the unexpected has happened — like the Gulf oil spill or Hurricane Sandy — he has been on the ground making sure that people get help right away and we deal with these challenges as professionally as possible.

So I really like Ken Salazar, if you haven’t gotten the point.  (Laughter.)  Ken is now ready to head back to Colorado and spend more time with Hope and his family.  And so in addition to just saying thank you, Ken, for the extraordinary work that you’ve done, Ken is also going to have the opportunity to introduce his successor.  And I am extraordinarily proud today to nominate another strong and capable leader to take the reins at Interior, and that is Ms. Sally Jewell.

In high school, Sally’s aptitude test showed she had a knack for mechanical reasoning and spatial ability.  (Laughter.)  We checked.  We do thorough vetting before nominations.  (Laughter.)  Of course, her recommended professions after she took these tests were to be a nurse or a teacher — just like all the other girls in her class.  And it wasn’t until she was an undergraduate at the University of Washington studying to be a dentist when Sally realized her boyfriend’s homework was more interesting than hers, and she decided to become an engineer.

After graduation, Sally went on to work in the oil fields of Oklahoma and Colorado.  Later, she brought her experience in the energy sector to banking, where she spent 19 years determining what makes companies succeed and fail.  And most recently as the CEO of REI — a position that she’s held for the last eight years — Sally has helped turn a stalling outdoor retailer into one of America’s most successful and environmentally conscious companies.  Last year, REI donated almost $4 million to protect trails and parks, and 20 percent of the electricity used in their stores comes from renewable sources.

So even as Sally has spent the majority of her career outside of Washington — where, I might add, the majority of our interior is located — (laughter) — she is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future.  She is committed to building our nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country.  She knows the link between conservation and good jobs.  She knows that there’s no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress; that in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand.  She has shown that a company with more than $1 billion in sales can do the right thing for our planet.

Sally’s broad expertise and set of values I know are going to serve her well as she takes on these new challenges.  She’s got a wonderful and supportive family who I understand enjoy the great outdoors just like she does.  So they’ve got a vested interest in making sure that the Department of the Interior is doing the right thing.  And when Sally is confirmed, I’m willing to bet that she will be the first Secretary of the Interior who frequently hikes Mailbox Peak in her native Washington State and who once spent a month climbing mountains in Antarctica, which is just not something I’d think of doing — (laughter) — because it seems like it would be cold, and I was born in Hawaii.  (Laughter.)

So for Sally, the toughest part of this job will probably be sitting behind a desk.  I suspect she’ll want to get out of the office quite a bit.  But, again, I want to thank Ken Salazar and the entire Salazar family for their extraordinary service, their extraordinary friendship.  The Department of the Interior is stronger, this country is stronger, our natural resources are in a better place because of his extraordinary service.  I could not be more thrilled with the work that Sally I know is going to do in following that path that Ken has carved.  I expect the Senate to confirm her as quickly as possible.

And with that, I’d like to invite both of them to say a few words, starting with my dear friend, Ken Salazar.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY SALAZAR:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Is it the same one I have?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, that’s Sally’s.  (Laughter.)  I just didn’t want to get them mixed up.

SECRETARY SALAZAR:  Let me just first of all say to President Obama that I am humbled and honored beyond imagination to have been a part of the President Obama dream team for the United States of America.  His presidency is historic, his team in the White House is historic, and the team at the Department of the Interior are historic.  And for that, I will ever be eternally grateful to you, my wonderful friend, Mr. President.  (Applause.)

So with your leadership and support, and this wonderful team that we have here, we have in fact changed the way that the Department of the Interior does business.  We have seized the opportunity together with our other colleagues in the Cabinet and under the President’s leadership and your stellar staff here at the White House to put the nation on a path towards energy independence.  Today, the largest solar projects in the history of the world are coming up out of the deserts of the public lands of the United States, and our foreign oil imports are at the lowest that they have been since 1995.

I’m proud, Mr. President, of you and your team, because of your leadership on conservation for America — from your support in the signing of the historic 2009 Public Lands Act to the launch of America’s Great Outdoors — together, we have ushered in a 21st century conservation agenda and preserved the crown jewels of our nation, from the crown of the continent to Montana to the Florida Everglades to the Statue of Liberty.

I’m proud of our historic work — and perhaps more proud of this than almost anything else — for the nation’s first Americans.  From resolving the longstanding conflicts like Cobell to delivering clean drinking water to places like the Navajo nation, you have given credibility, Mr. President, to the proposition that the nation’s first Americans, too, will share in the American Dream.

Mr. President, my parents pushed their eight children to become first-generation college graduates, and taught us that anything was possible in this nation of ours.  As your Secretary of Interior, you have given to me the opportunity to prove them right and to achieve that American Dream.  And for that, Hope, my wife, and my entire family will be eternally grateful to you.

Today, Mr. President, I’m also proud to stand with you here as you announce your selection of an outstanding person to be your nominee for Secretary of Interior.  Sally Jewell knows firsthand the inextricable link between conservation and the economy.  Sally was a key contributor to you and to your entire team in the creation of the America’s Great Outdoors agenda.  She’s been a champion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and so many other conservation issues of our time.  And I also know that her successful business record and experience as an oil and gas engineer will serve her well as she implements your all-of-the-above energy agenda, which has been such a keystone to you over the last four years.  And I’m sure you will have more to say about that very soon.

So, Mr. President, I believe that, as you have done with all the decisions that you have made since I have been working with you and your team, this is a stellar decision.  And you have chosen somebody who will be a stellar, outstanding Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell.  (Applause.)

MS. JEWELL:  Well, thank you, Mr. President, for your kind words and for the confidence you’re placing in me with this nomination.  I have a great job at REI today, but there’s no role that compares than the call to serve my country as Secretary of the Department of Interior.  I’m humbled and I’m energized by this opportunity, and I look forward to getting to know members of the Senate as they consider my nomination in the coming weeks.

Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for the opportunities you’ve given to people across this country to engage with the Department of Interior, sharing their hopes and their dreams for our public lands, our resources, our people — especially our first people — our history and our culture.  I look forward to working with the dedicated employees at Interior who work so hard to care for our land and our resources every day.  I’m going to do my best to fill those big boots of yours — (laughter) — but I think I might get lost in your hat.  (Laughter.)

Thank you, Warren, my husband of nearly 35 years; my two children — Peter and Anne — for their love and their support on this career journey.  I’m excited to take this new challenge.  Thank you so much.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re going to do great.

MS. JEWELL:  Thank you.  (Applause.)


2:20 P.M. EST

Political Headlines February 6, 2013: President Barack Obama to Nominate REI CEO Sally Jewell as Interior Secretary





Obama to Tap REI CEO as Interior Secretary

Source: ABC News Radio, 2-6-13

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

President Obama will nominate Sally Jewell to be the next secretary of the interior, a senior White House official told ABC News.

Jewell is the CEO of REI, the outdoor recreational equipment retailer.  She has no political experience, but according to the Denver Post, she did spend five weeks hiking in Antarctica in 2011, climbing some of the continent’s most treacherous peaks.

Jewell will replace Ken Salazar, who has announced he will not stay for Obama’s second term. She is the first woman Obama has announced for his second-term cabinet….READ MORE

Political Headlines January 4, 2013: President Barack Obama Poised to Name New Defense, Treasury Secretaries





Obama Poised to Name New Defense, Treasury Chiefs

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-4-13

Alex Wong/Getty Images

With the “fiscal cliff” crisis behind him, President Obama is poised to name two new key players to his cabinet, with at least one announcement expected early next week….

Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is a leading candidate to head the Department of Defense, while current chief of staff Jack Lew is the likely nominee for the top role at Treasury….READ MORE

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