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The White House says it intends to nominate U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Kenneth Wainstein to head the Justice Department’s recently authorized National Security Division. If confirmed by the Senate, Wainstein will take charge of a division that will stand at the forefront of the government’s fight against terrorism. The 210-person division will combine prosecutors from the DOJ Criminal Division‘s counterespionage and counterterrorism sections with lawyers from the department’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, the group charged with reviewing wiretapping operations under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In announcing Wainstein’s nomination, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales hailed the new division as a step toward eliminating bureaucratic hurdles in the government’s efforts to combat terrorism. “It is another step in eliminating the infamous �wall’ between our intelligence and law enforcement teams,” Gonzales said Monday at a press conference announcing the nomination. With the rank of assistant attorney general, Wainstein will report to acting Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. He will also serve as the Justice Department’s liaison to John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence. Under the terms of the USA Patriot Act, which was renewed by Congress earlier this month, Gonzales can delegate final DOJ approval of wiretaps under FISA to the chief of the new division. On Monday, Gonzales said he had not decided yet whether he would actually delegate that authority. Wainstein, 44, a former chief of staff to FBI Director Robert Mueller III, has demonstrated a will to shake up bureaucracies. He took over the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington in May 2004 and promptly replaced nearly a dozen supervisors while creating a stand-alone homicide division. Wainstein will remain as U.S. attorney for the District pending his confirmation. How quickly the new division will become operational hinges on Congress, which still must appropriate funds for it in the 2007 budget.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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