Honoree - Chertoff

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

On February 15, 2005, Judge Michael Chertoff was unanimously confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as the second Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He formerly served as United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, after his June 2003 Senate confirmation.

Secretary Chertoff was previously confirmed by the Senate in 2001 to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. As Assistant Attorney General, he oversaw the investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He also formed the Enron Task Force, which produced more than 20 convictions, including those of CEOs Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay.

Before joining the George W. Bush Administration, Chertoff was a Partner in the law firm of Latham & Watkins.  From 1995 to 1996, he served as Special Counsel for the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee.

Prior to that, Chertoff spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor, including service as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. As a federal prosecutor, Chertoff investigated and personally prosecuted significant cases of political corruption, organized crime, and corporate fraud. Among them was the “Mafia Commission” case, in which the leaders of La Cosa Nostra were all convicted and sentenced to 100 years in prison for directing the criminal activities of the American Mafia.

Chertoff graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1975 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1978. From 1979-1980 he served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr.