Who Will Be the Next Homeland Security Secretary?

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen is among those cited as a possible replacement. Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen is among those cited as a possible replacement. Cliff Owen/AP file photo

News that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is stepping down to become president of the University of California system sent Washington policy wonks into a frenzy of speculation about who would take her place this fall.

While White House press secretary Jay Carney said he had no names to offer, given Napolitano will stay in her job until early September, that did not stop the guesswork. Here are some of the names floated by Capitol Hill sources who work on security issues:

  • Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, widely praised for his handling of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita;
  • Wilson Center CEO Jane Harman, the former California congresswoman who was House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat;
  • Jane Holl Lute, who until recently served as Napolitano’s No. 2 and left the department to work on international Internet issues;
  • Joe Lieberman, the recently retired independent (and hawkish) senator from Connecticut who chaired the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee;
  • Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican senator from Maine, a former ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and
  • Ray Kelly, the New York City police commissioner who has developed a national reputation since 9/11. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer publicly pushed for Kelly on Friday.

Defense-watchers off the Hill also weighed in: A former administration official who preferred to remain anonymous speculates that Mike Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center who is now a senior official at Palantir Technologies, or Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole may be tapped.

National Journal earlier reported that possible successors to Napolitano, should she step down in a second Obama administration, could also include Bill Bratton, an internationally renowned law-enforcement expert who has run the police departments in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles; or Clark Ervin, the department’s former inspector general who runs the homeland-security project at the Aspen Institute.

Rebecca Kaplan contributed.

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