US Homeland Security Department General Counsel Resigns

WASHINGTON -- The US Homeland Security Department's top legal official has resigned, the department announced Monday.

Joe D. Whitley submitted his resignation to President George W. Bush earlier this month, and in order to allow for a smooth transition, his resignation date has not been determined, the department said in a statement, which does not explain the reason for Whitley's resignation.

Whitley, who was confirmed by the US Senate in July 2003 as the department's first general counsel, "oversaw the integration of approximately 1,500 attorneys from 22 different agencies into a cohesive, full service legal team" after the Homeland Security Department was established in early 2003, the statement said.

"As the first general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security, Joe has played an important role in furthering the progress and critical mission of this new department, while ensuring that our efforts to secure the nation have been consistent with the rule of law," US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.