Washington, DC – Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) today chaired a hearing of
the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to consider
the President’s nomination of Judge Michael Chertoff as Secretary of the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Senator Collins’ Committee has
jurisdiction over DHS and must approve the President’s nominee in order for
him to progress to the full Senate for confirmation.

Senator Collins reminded the Committee about the threat our nation
continues to face from terrorism. She also expressed her view that it is
important for a DHS Secretary to strengthen border and port security without
unnecessarily inhibiting the free flow of people or commerce, ensure adequate
funding for first responders, foster strong relationships with state and local
law enforcement, and improve management functions at DHS.

Senator Collins addressed concerns that were recently raised in the
media, about Judge Chertoff’s prior involvement in legal discussions about the
interrogation of suspects and witnesses who are detained in the war on terror.
Senator Collins asked, “In hindsight, after an investigation of the strategy
that the Department of Justice used post 9/11… were there problems in how long
it took to clear detainees, in treatment of detainees, and in access to
counsel?” Judge Chertoff responded, “Yes,” citing a need for better training
of government personnel in anti-terrorism efforts. “I believe that we cannot
live in liberty without security, but we would not want to live in security
without liberty. So we need both of those to fashion the architecture of our
civilization going forward,” he said.

Senator Collins also questioned Judge Chertoff about improving port
security, saying, “This is an area that I do believe has not received the
attention it deserves, nor the funding that is needed.” She pointed out that
Maine’s ports, including New England’s largest port in terms of tonnage, still
have significant needs in terms of port security. She also relayed a concerns
expressed by the Director of the Port of Portland that there is not enough
flexibility in the allocation of resources. Chertoff responded by agreeing
that more flexibility is needed and that funding must not be devoted solely to
aviation security.

Senator Collins’ Committee is expected to vote on the nomination of Judge
Chertoff to be DHS Secretary early next week. Senator Collins’ and Judge
Chertoff’s prepared statements are available at: