General John Kelly, Trump’s Pick for Homeland Security, Cruises in Hearing
New York Times
By Ron Nixon and Emmarie Huetteman
JAN. 10, 2017
WASHINGTON — Gen. John F. Kelly, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, easily maneuvered through his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, drawing bipartisan support for what is likely be a smooth approval process by the full Senate.
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, asked General Kelly about Mr. Trump’s much-debated calls to build a wall along the border with Mexico, questioning whether a barrier alone would be sufficient to stop the flow of immigrants and drugs.
“A physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job,” General Kelly said.
General Kelly made it clear that the United States would have to deal with factors in South and Central America that fuel northward migration — especially drugs and related violence — and that the nation should look to bolster law enforcement in those countries. He also expressed a notable degree of empathy for those who seek refuge in the United States.
“They, for the most part, don’t want to come up and leave their homes, their families,” General Kelly said. “But there isn’t an awful lot of economic opportunity for them there.”
General Kelly was also questioned about Mr. Trump’s suggestion that he might revive a dormant registry program for visitors from countries with active terrorist groups — a program critics say unfairly targets Muslims.
“I don’t agree with registering people based on ethnicity or religion,” General Kelly replied.
Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and a longtime critic of government surveillance programs, asked General Kelly if he supported the bulk collection of data on Americans.
“I’m not for the mass collection of data,” General Kelly said. “I go the other way.”
If confirmed, General Kelly will become the fifth person and the first former military officer to lead the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for protecting the country from terrorist attacks and managing the nation’s response to disasters.
General Kelly was introduced to the homeland security panel by Robert M. Gates, a secretary of defense under President Obama and George W. Bush, and by Mr. McCain.
Mr. Gates, who was General Kelly’s boss during a tour at the Pentagon, called him a “straight-talking, candid, courageous leader who will say exactly what he thinks.” Mr. Gates described him as a reliable, competent leader, capable of managing a complex, multipart operation.
General Kelly will face a number of challenges if he is confirmed. Despite improvements in recent years, the department continues to have persistent management problems, and employee morale is consistently low compared with other federal agencies.
Read the complete article HERE.
If confirmed, Kelly will head an executive branch agency that oversees 25 different departments including the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The department employs more than 240,000 federal workers. From 2001 to 2003, the DHS Budget combined total was $63 million. The 2017 budget request is $66 million. Congress members all were worried about use and abuse of those funds as they should be especially after the uncontrolled and at times outrageous spending of Obama’s administration. The fraud and waste allowed was unforgivable when the country needed to be in recovery mode and people were hurting financially.
Who is Gen. John F. Kelly? Wikipedia gives bare facts but sparing on details.
Kelly was born on May 11, 1950 in Boston, Massachusetts where he was also raised, in an Irish-Catholic family. Before he turned 16, he had hitchhiked across the country at least once, including a freight-hop from Seattle to Chicago. He then served for one year as a United States Merchant Marine.
He initially enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1970, and was discharged from active duty as a sergeant in 1972, after serving in an infantry company with the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Following graduation from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1976, he was commissioned on December 27, 1975 as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps via Officer Candidates School. He received a Master of Science degree in National Security Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in 1984.
From that point, General Kelly went on to serve in many capacities during his tenure in the military, earning the overall respect of all who served under and with him. In January 2007 Kelly was nominated for major-general, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 11, 2007. He retired as a four star general in January 2016 after serving four years as Commander of United States Southern Command.
At the beginning of Gen. Kelly’s confirmation hearing, he spoke quietly and with pride of his family noting the love and support of his wife and pride in his son. It is refreshing to hear such a strong figure admit who runs the household and willingly acknowledge that strength in a mate. He lost a son, First Lieutenant Robert Kelly,who was killed in action in Afghanistan. His eldest child is also a Marine Corp major.
Since sixteen, he has been independent, determined, and living a lifestyle that was neither overly protected by family or privileged. In fact, he more than many older adults can understand teens who are on their own in a harsh world where life teaches lessons not learned inside a schoolroom. For them, he should be a wonderful example of what drive, personal goals, and becoming educated can be done even by one who at times could view themselves as in a hopeless situation. What a great encouragement and a warning.
He isn’t going to be a pushover or a patsy, thank goodness. Life experiences develop character or can destroy. In his case, I sense they have honed this man into a fine individual who even at the age of 66 respects, loves, and honors his country enough to be willing to again serve. Once a marine, always a marine… Most who have served in every branch of military say the same -” I took an oath to protect and serve that did not end when I left my position in the service.” Thank God for these men and women. They are the backbone of our nation. Their strengths and beliefs have brought us through many rough patches. If we look at congress right now, we see proof of their belief in their oath as they answered the call again by serving the country in another capacity.
From the respectful attitudes, praise, and actual enthusiasm of those who questioned him, I really got the sense that this is a great choice for the position. I tend to make judgements on people based on facts but also presentation. In Gen. Kelly’s case, I saw a man who has learned to listen to others then provide answers after careful examination rather than provide quick replies. I have the sense that if he speaks then he believes it to be truth because of his determination to get facts not speculation or supposition. In fact, he stated as much quite succinctly. He was not only calm but one could see that the mantle of command sits well on his shoulders.
I am guessing that those who have been under his command would not ever blithely say he was easy to work under; but, I bet they all say they respect him for his ability and character. I think from what I saw that when he asks for something, responders will be very aware that half measures will not be tolerated. Nor do I doubt that whatever he demands from others will be less than what he will demand from himself.
Several media articles have made a point of noting that we now have an abundance of military in high-ranking positions, as usual I think MSM is attempting to bias or create problems where there are none for the sake of filling space. They are also quick to point out that these appointees are not falling in line with the rhetoric Trump espoused on his campaign tour.
First, Trump’s picks so far that have been interviewed or discussed show a great deal of intelligent, thoughtful consideration by him. It may be that they will clash and often but I don’t think it will be because he refuses to hear any ideas that are counter to his own. If anything, it will be because he has been used to being in command and having everyone do his bidding but never had to deal with congressional bureaucracy. He doesn’t need or want “yes” men but those who as he has constantly said will “protect, defend, and further the country’s goals and citizens.” Obama had “yes” men and we all have seen how well that served our country. That necessarily requires Trump have strong men of character and opinions which are born out by experience in an area he is less knowledgeable of. However, Trump is far from a puppet and dummy, I get the impression he absorbs experiences and knowledge like a sponge.
Second, considering the depths of despair and decay we have witnessed over the last eight years, we need the experience and expertise of men honed to command to bring us back up to a better plane.
In the positions that he hopes to fill with military, I can see where the value and expertise of commanding regiments and preparing for engagement are necessary for security and protection right now. Fears about militarized government at this time are probably premature considering the lack of backbone and discipline we have currently permeating our society. These men are less likely to engage because they know the costs of wars but willing to do so if absolutely necessary which certainly fits with Trumps comments about “walk softly, but be prepared to follow through.”
Gen. Kelly’s confirmation was really low-key but for those who want to get a sense of his character and understand his views, watch the video below. It is an hour-long roughly but the entire confirmation video was more than two hours long. As yet, I could find no specific clips and that is fine because most would have not provided a sense of the man.