AuthorJohnson, Jeh Charles

I am pleased to provide this foreword to Volume 29, Issue 2, of the Stanford Law & Policy Review. In the post-9/11 era, homeland security, and all that it entails, has become an item of keen public and academic interest.

When I became Secretary of Homeland Security, the judge who administered the oath reminded me: "you just took an oath to support and defend the constitution, not the homeland." We are, after all, a nation of laws. In matters of national security law, we must ensure that the law is applied honestly and faithfully to meet modern-day threats. In matters of national security policy, we must ensure that policy keeps pace with an ever-evolving post-9/11 threat picture. In all, we must ensure that policy conforms to law, and not the other way around.

When I became Secretary of Homeland Security in December 2013, I brought to the job a counterterrorism focus, given my four years of experience as General Counsel of the Department of Defense. I said publicly and repeatedly that counterterrorism must be the cornerstone of the Department of Homeland Security's mission. I quickly realized that a building can have more than one cornerstone, and that for DHS, cybersecurity needed to be the other one.

The threat environment has changed significantly since 9/11, and it now encompasses, most notably, both counterterrorism and cybersecurity.


Like millions of other Americans, my world was rocked on September 11, 2001. I am a New Yorker, and was in Manhattan that day. September 11 also happens to be my birthday, so I have a vivid recollection of the day, both before and after 8:46 AM, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Just nine months earlier during the Clinton Administration, I had been in service at the Pentagon as General Counsel of the Air Force. Now out of the Pentagon and back to being a private citizen, I wandered the streets of New York bearing a sense of guilt and helplessness, asking myself "what can I do?"

Seven and a half years later, I got my answer in service to President Barack Obama's administration, first as a lawyer (General Counsel of the Department of Defense), and then as a policymaker (Secretary of Homeland Security).

When the Department of Homeland Security was formed by an act of Congress in 2002, terrorism was something that our leaders worried would infiltrate our borders. The solution, then, was the merger into one Cabinet-level department of the protections against all the different...

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