White House considers Bonner for DHS job
Robert Bonner, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is on the short list of candidates being considered by the White House to head the Department of Homeland Security, according to current and former administration officials close to the situation.
The White House is searching for someone to replace Tom Ridge as secretary after President Bush’s first choice for the job, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, was forced to pull out after he disclosed he had hired an undocumented immigrant as a nanny and had not paid taxes for her as required by law.
Bonner’s name was first mentioned in a press report as a possible candidate by the Associated Press on Tuesday. His name never surfaced publicly as a possible candidate during the first go-round, with speculation focused on Kerik; Fran Townsend, the White House Homeland Security Advisor; Asa Hutchinson, DHS undersecretary for border and transportation security; and others. Bonner reports to Hutchinson, who has actively pushed for job.
Bonner visited the White House Wednesday to discuss the position, a clear sign he is being seriously considered, according to sources. Bonner, a former federal judge and head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, has been confirmed by the Senate on four previous occasions.
Political advisor Karl Rove, Chief of Staff Andrew Card and the White House personnel director are in charge of the selection process.
A White House spokeswoman declined to discuss who is being considered for the post.
CBP is a high-profile agency within DHS and many of the department’s initiatives to prevent terrorists from using containers as a platform to attack the United States were proposed and implemented by Bonner before DHS was created in 2003.
Ridge announced his resignation Nov. 30.