DHS nominee a data-mining advocate

DHS nominee a data-mining advocate

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

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

In testimony describing Justice's antiterrorist prosecutions that he delivered to 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.'

Currently, 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 he led Justice's Criminal Division, he spent seven years in private practice. From 1994 to 1996, Chertoff worked as special counsel to the Senate's Whitewater Committee. Before that, he spent stints as a federal prosecutor, private lawyer and law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. 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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