HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html DEA's Boss Says Homeland His Calling
Pubdate: Wed, 27 Nov 2002
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2002 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Jerry Seper


Drug Enforcement Administration chief Asa Hutchinson, nominated by 
President Bush as the Department of Homeland Security's undersecretary for 
border and transportation security, yesterday called the appointment "an 
enormous challenge" and said he was "delighted to be on the team." Top 
Stories "I have a wonderful job and I love it, but I am responding to the 
call of the president," Mr. Hutchinson told The Washington Times. "The 
president is putting together a new team and I am honored he thought I 
could bring something to it."

Mr. Hutchinson, a former three-term Arkansas Republican congressman sworn 
in as DEA administrator in August 2001, will be charged with ensuring 
greater security for the nation's borders and transportation 
infrastructures and bringing together a myriad of agencies assigned to 
accomplish the task. It is considered the new department's toughest 
assignment. "Obviously the biggest challenge will be to fulfill the premise 
of the Homeland Security legislation, which is to coordinate the agencies 
involved and provide for greater security," he said. The new 170,000-member 
Department of Homeland Security, headed by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom 
Ridge, formally will begin operations in March, when several agencies are 
combined into a massive new department. It is expected to be fully 
operational by Sept. 30. Mr. Hutchinson will be responsible for developing 
a plan to prevent the entry of terrorists and the instruments of terrorism 
into the United States, and for securing the country's borders, territorial 
waters, ports and terminals.

He also will oversee the inspection, immigration and enforcement functions 
of the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization 
Service and other federal agencies. "My main objective will be to make sure 
our borders are safe," Mr. Hutchinson said. Attorney General John Ashcroft, 
commenting on Mr. Hutchinson's nomination, said the Justice Department was 
"losing a great leader," but that he was "confident" the DEA chief's 
experience, leadership and dedication would "benefit the new Homeland 
Security Department and the nation." As head of the DEA, Mr. Hutchinson 
focused the agency's enforcement efforts against top-level, 
drug-trafficking organizations, while being a national advocate for 
increased drug-prevention and treatment programs.

He pushed for the first-ever indictments of known terrorists for drug 
trafficking and oversaw the dismantling of the Arellano Felix drug cartel, 
one of Mexico's most powerful and violent drug-smuggling operations. Mr. 
Hutchinson's nomination is expected to receive wide bipartisan support.

During hearings for the DEA post, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat 
and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Mr. Hutchinson "a 
man of integrity and intelligence." The panel's ranking Republican, Sen. 
Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, described the former congressman as "good people" 
and said he was "grateful" he was "willing to serve" as DEA administrator. 
Meanwhile, DEA Deputy Administrator John B. Brown III is expected to be 
named as acting head of the agency when Mr. Hutchinson leaves, probably in 
January. Mr. Brown also has emerged as a leading contender for the top job. 
A 30-year DEA veteran, Mr. Brown is a key figure in the agency's day-to-day 
operations and has held several top positions within the agency.
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