Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau: Author News
Secretary Kelly, don't hire Sheriff Clarke

JulietteKayyem

May 19, 2017

By Juliette Kayyem,

(CNN)Dear Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly,

On Wednesday, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, one of the tough-talking members of the Trump team, said to a radio host that he was going to take a job at the Department of Homeland Security as assistant secretary in the Office of Partnership and Engagement. He mistakenly referred to it as the "Office of Partnership and Programs," suggesting the position itself -- rather than the substance of the work -- matters more to him.

The announcement was met with a flurry of criticism: Clarke, who is staunchly conservative, said earlier this year that the only time he would reach across the aisle would be to grab a Democrat "by the throat." And previously he had compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the Ku Klux Klan.

But Clarke is not just a provocative speaker. On his watch, prisoners have died, a woman lost a baby during childbirth and, most recently, an inmate deprived of water for a week died.

That's why I hope that DHS email to Mother Jones -- "Senior positions are announced by the department when made official by the secretary. No such announcement with regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made" -- was a pushback coming from you, Secretary Kelly.

We've only met once, Secretary Kelly, but I was publicly complimentary of your appointment. And I still serve on the department's Homeland Security Advisory Committee until my term expires this summer. I fundamentally disagree with many of the policies at DHS right now, but I still believe in the mission: to protect our communities from all threats and assist them when tragedy occurs.
So I hope you keep pushing back. Because there is one thing I know for sure: Clarke is not only unfit to serve, he will not serve you well. His divisive rhetoric and action will make him an impossible figure for communities to engage with -- and that is a critical part of the job.

I should know. I had the job in the Obama administration.

There are agencies at the DHS that require strong leadership and a clear chain of command, such as at the Coast Guard or Transportation Security Administration.


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