Two new names have emerged as possible candidates for Department of Homeland Security secretary under President-elect Donald Trump, including a retired Marine general who clashed with the Obama administration over women in combat and plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, people familiar with the selection process said Monday, according to The Washington Post.
Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, who retired this year as chief of U.S. Southern Command, is under consideration for the critical homeland security post, the people said. Also under consideration is Frances Townsend, a top homeland security and counterterrorism official in the George W. Bush administration, they said, The Washington Post reported.
Kelly, a widely respected military officer who served for more than 40 years, opposed the administration`s failed plans to close Guantanamo and has strongly defended how the military treats detainees, telling The Washington Post in 2014 that criticism of their treatment by human rights groups and others was ”foolishness.”
He also publicly expressed concerns over the Pentagon`s order in December that for the first time opened all jobs in combat units to women, including the most elite forces such as the Navy SEALs.
Kelly, whose son died in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, met with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Sunday. A statement from Trump`s transition team said the three ”had a frank discussion about the global national security situation,” along with Kelly`s experience running the Southern Command. People familiar with the selection process said Trump`s team is interested in Kelly`s experience with the Southern border, where Trump wants to build his controversial wall to keep out illegal immigrants.
Townsend, who served as assistant to Bush for homeland security and counterterrorism, also held senior positions during 13 years at the Justice Department, including counsel to the attorney general for intelligence policy. If selected for DHS, she could also help Trump counter allegations that his Cabinet picks so far have lacked diversity.