A Conversation with the Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff moderated by Jeffrey Goldberg at the 2008 Aspen Ideas Festival.
As Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, Mr. Chertoff led the country in blocking would-be terrorists from crossing our borders or implementing their plans if they were already in the country. He also transformed FEMA into an effective organization following Hurricane Katrina. His greatest successes have earned few headlines – because the important news is what didn’t happen.
At Chertoff Group, Mr. Chertoff will provide high-level strategic counsel to corporate and government leaders on a broad range of security issues, from risk identification and prevention to preparedness, response and recovery. “Risk management has become the CEO’s concern,” he says. “We help our clients develop comprehensive strategies to manage risk without building barriers that get in the way of carrying on their business.”
Before heading up the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Chertoff served as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Earlier, during more than a decade as a federal prosecutor, he investigated and prosecuted cases of political corruption, organized crime, corporate fraud and terrorism – including the investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Chertoff is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College (1975) and Harvard Law School (1978). From 1979-1980 he served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr.
In addition to his role at Chertoff Group, Mr. Chertoff is also senior of counsel at Covington & Burling LLP, and a member of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations practice group.
Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent of The Atlantic. Before joining the magazine in 2007, he was Middle East correspondent and Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York Magazine. He has also written for the Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post. His book Prisoners has been hailed as one of the best books of 2006. Goldberg is the recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist, an Overseas Press Club award for best human rights reporting, and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005’s Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.
Homeland Security Chertoff discusses the challenge presented by tracking legal visa holders inside the United States and the tension between safety and expediency.
Chertoff notes that homeland security "always a struggle to put the welfare of the common good above the individual interests of a particular group or sector that's going to be inconvenienced by a security measure."