Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau: Author News
Milwaukee’s Sheriff Clarke wants my old Homeland Security job. He’s unfit.


May 19, 2017

By Juliette Kayyem,

If controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is correct, he’s being tapped for a senior role at the Department of Homeland Security. Although DHS hasn’t yet confirmed it, in a radio interview Wednesday, Clarke said he was “honored and humbled to be appointed” to the position, reportedly assistant secretary in the Office of Partnership and Engagement.

That’s my old job.

I’ve never met Clarke, but based on his inflammatory rhetoric, along with the cloud hanging over his tenure in Milwaukee, I’ll just come right out and say it: He’s not fit to serve at the agency tasked with domestic security for all Americans.

Last year, after four deaths at jails Clarke oversees, Milwaukee County auditors initiated an investigation into inmate medical treatment practices. Earlier this year, Clarke was accused of engaging in a hostile exchange with a fellow passenger on a commercial flight. He once likened President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, tweeting, “Hitler united all police forces under one commander. Obama trying to do the same using DOJ to federalize local police.” He conflated the Black Lives Matter movement with the Islamic State, tweeting, “Before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS.” And he tweeted, “It’s incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time”.

None of this matches up with the work at DHS.

I served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary of Homeland Security for Intergovernmental Affairs. The title’s unwieldy, and not very descriptive, which might explain why the position is now labeled under the department’s Office of Public Engagement. The job’s remit, and mandate, though, is the same.

[If you work for Trump, it’s time to quit]

The team in the small Office of Public Engagement is focused on stakeholder engagement across diverse, complex and interconnected state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement entities. That includes a big-city police chief who still called me “kid” (I’m 47) while asking for a $30 million grant, and a blue-state governor who asked whether the priority distribution of H1N1 vaccine to “political leadership” in each state extended to his wife and children.

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