Julie Myers is 36 years old, a lawyer and a political appointee to the Bush administration with limited executive experience.
Yet, she is slated to become head of one of the nation's most critical security-related agencies, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Myers appointment, in the wake of FEMA's disastrous handling of the Katrina Hurricane and the resignation of its chief, Michael Brown, is raising the hackles of people on both sides of the political aisle.
"The Bush administration has barely rebounded from the resignation of horse show organizer Michael ‘Heck of a job' Brown from FEMA, and yet is pushing forward with the nomination of another inexperienced bureaucrat to a key post at the Department of Homeland Security," conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin railed in an article out this week.
Despite the obvious résumé problems, the Bush administration is not likely to back down on the appointment.
Myers' uncle is none other than the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers.
And Myers' husband is DHS chief Michael Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood.
Great contacts, but "what exactly are the 36-year-old lawyer's main credentials to solve ... dire national security problems?" asks Malkin in her op-head piece.
"Zip, Nada, Nil," answers Malkin.
Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are also worried that tapping the relatively inexperienced Myers may engender down the pike another debacle like that of Katrina fall-guy Michael D. Brown, the recently resigned head of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
At a Senate hearing last week, rumblings over Myers were apparent, according to the Washington Post, with Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, at one point baldly concluding that Myers' résumé indicated that she is "not qualified for the position."
Voinovich further announced at the time that he wanted to meet with Chertoff to discuss Myers' qualifications. "I'd really like to have him spend some time with us, telling us personally why he thinks you're qualified for the job..."
Part of that highly scrutinized résumé indicates that Julie L. Myers was nominated by President Bush on June 26, 2003, and confirmed by the Senate on October 17, 2003, to serve as the assistant secretary for Export Enforcement at the Department of Commerce.
During her brief tenure in her Commerce position, Myers was responsible for developing and coordinating the Department's efforts to prevent, and where necessary, sanction violations of U.S. dual-use export control laws and the anti-boycott provisions of the Export Administration Act.
She also managed Commerce Special Agents who work at eight field offices in the United States, and oversaw the Export Enforcement's international attache program.
At Commerce, Myers oversaw just 170 federal employees and managed a budget of $25 million. In her new job heading up ICE, Myers will be expected to manage more than 20,000 employees and a $4 billion budget.
The White House has been emphasizing that Myers' role in sanctioning violations of U.S. dual-use export control laws and the anti-boycott provisions of the Export Administration Act represents solid law enforcement experience.
As Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman, told the Washington Post: "She's well-known and respected throughout the law enforcement community ... She has a proven track record as an effective manager."
Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Myers served as the chief of staff of the Criminal Division for then-assistant attorney general Michael Chertoff at the Department of Justice.
Before that, she served as the deputy assistant secretary for Money Laundering and Financial Crimes at the Department of Treasury. She also worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and as an Associate Independent Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel for Kenneth W. Starr.
"I realize that I'm not 80 years old," Myers testified recently on Capitol Hill. "I have a few gray hairs, more coming, but I will seek to work with those who are knowledgeable in this area, who know more than I do."
Malkin couldn't let that nugget slide without comment: "Please, spare us the not-so-clever rejoinders about age and wisdom. Reagan could pull them off. Myers can't. Why hire someone who needs to ‘seek to work' with those ‘who know more than I do' in order to her job?"
After Sept. 11, Immigration, then a Justice Dept. agency, was heavily criticized for failing to stop many of the al Qaida hijackers from entering the U.S. or having them deported, as many of them were here illegally.
Malkin says Myers' appointment in light of Sept. 11 is worrisome.
"Myers may be perfectly capable of writing legal briefs and organizing policy conferences," Malkin writes. "I'm sure her knowledge of export controls is second to none. But as long as the borders are broken and al Qaida continues to exploit lax immigration enforcement, she has no business heading ICE - or any other DHS agency."
The head of ICE is required by statute to have at least five years of experience in both law enforcement and management. That requirement alone spells a world of difference between Myers and Brown, the latter having joined FEMA with no experience in disaster preparedness.
But the experience factor aside, Myers has yet another headache in the works. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., is threatening to use legislative delaying tactics against Myers' nomination - until he receives a secret FBI memo about terror suspect interrogations that he's been seeking for months, according to the Associated Press.
At the heart of Levin's issue is a heavily abridged May 2004 e-mail from FBI agents seeking guidance about questioning terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.
As far back as February, Democratic senators were asking for an unedited version of the memo to see if it mentioned or involved Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who headed the Justice Department's criminal division from 2001 to 2003.
However, the Justice Department has consistently nixed the request, saying the memos contain "information covered by the Privacy Act," and had nothing to do with Chertoff.
Myers was Chertoff's chief of staff at the time.
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