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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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October 18th, 2013
05:24 PM ET

Border, drones, and terrorism: The challenges facing the next DHS secretary

President Barack Obama announced Friday that Jeh Johnson, former head counsel for the Pentagon, will be the next Department of Homeland Security Secretary – if he is confirmed.

Former assistant secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers Wood was involved in appointing Michael Chertoff to this same position under former President George W. Bush, and said there are many similarities between Secretary Chertoff and Johnson.

"Chertoff was the right man for the job because he's incredibly smart. DHS has a lot of very difficult issues, a lot of first impression issues, and he could look at those and decide them very quickly," said Myers Wood.

"You can't mull over things for years. DHS is not the kind of agency where you can do that," said Myers Wood.

Chertoff had also successfully navigated the inner agency community, something Johnson has done at the Department of Defense. They were both former prosecutors from the southern district of New York.

"President Bush thought that background would give Secretary Chertoff a real leg up and help him bring together this agency, and I think he did so," said Myers Wood.

Two former governors have recently served as DHS head, Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, and Janet Napolitano of Arizona. It is important to have leadership experience with such a big, sprawling bureaucracy like DHS.

"It's very easy to come into DHS and know a whole lot about one thing that it does – cybersecurity, aviation security, immigration. It's very rare, and in fact we haven't really had it yet, for a DHS secretary to know everything, or at least most things about everything DHS does," said Spencer Ackerman, national security editor at The Guardian.

For more of our interview with Julie Myers Wood and Spencer Ackerman, watch the video above.

CNN's Cassie Spodak contributed to this report.

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