WASHINGTON – President Bush on Wednesday named a veteran prosecutor who heads the Justice Department's anti-terrorism efforts as his homeland security adviser.
From the White House, Ken Wainstein will coordinate efforts "to ensure that we continue to make progress on combating terrorism, securing our borders and strengthening our emergency preparedness," Bush said in a statement.
In an e-mail to his staff, Wainstein said he expected to start at the White House in about 10 days.
"I am profoundly grateful and humbled that the president asked me to serve in this position, and it is a tremendous opportunity to contribute to our national security effort from a different perspective," he wrote.
Wainstein declined to comment when The Associated Press asked him about the job, formerly held by Frances Fragos Townsend. She stepped down in November after 4 1/2 years.
Wainstein was the chief federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia and the top lawyer at the FBI.
"He's uniquely qualified," said David Kelley, once a senior terrorism prosecutor who now is in private practice in New York, where he and Wainstein worked together years ago.
"He has served the role of counselor — certainly with the FBI director he served in that role. The nature of the role is not new to him, and the subject matter is not new either," said Kelley.
Wainstein's nomination to his current job at the Justice Department became a political football last year. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., held up confirmation as he tried to force the department to supply more information from FBI agents who reported witnessing aggressive, at times abusive, interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a Defense Department facility.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey said he was sorry to see Wainstein leave the department where he has worked for almost 20 years. But, he added, "I can think of no better choice to serve as the president's homeland security adviser."
Separately, the White House announced that Bush would nominate Michael E. Leiter to become director of the National Counterterrorism Center, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Leiter is the acting director.