The national security community on Capitol Hill continues to mourn the recent passing of one of its steadiest hands.
Gordon N. Lederman, a longtime Senate staffer and well-regarded 9/11 commission staffer, died May 10 after a battle with cancer.
Former New Jersey GOP Gov. Thomas Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the 9/11 commission and current co-chairmen of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project, mourned Lederman’s passing in a recent statement.
“Gordon was a great American, working with passion, patriotism, and perseverance to keep our nation secure,” they said in the statement. “We were honored to work with this devoted, dedicated, and determined man, and we will sorely miss him.”
On the 9/11 commission, Lederman focused on assessing senior-level management structure in the intelligence community to bolster the aim of preventing future attacks like those of Sept. 11, 2001.
Lederman also worked for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee under its then-chairman, independent Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who paid tribute to Lederman on the floor on Dec. 21: “My time in the Senate is drawing to a close. I have already given my farewell address. However, I just wanted to take these few minutes to thank Gordon Lederman ... and for his career-long dedication to making our homeland more secure.”
Lederman had left the Senate earlier that year to tend to his illness. But he had made his mark on the panel by helping craft the intelligence overhaul bill of 2004 and an investigation into the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. He also worked at the National Counterterrorism Center.
An expert on the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, Lederman wrote a book on it, “Reorganizing the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” published in 1999.
Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, a nonresident senior associate for the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, regularly briefed Lederman and other staffers on the committee.
Getting a vast federal government to coordinate its efforts is a difficult task. Lederman, Nelson said, was always up to it.
“Gordon always sought to take on those challenges and look at them from a very pragmatic, a very even-keeled, thoughtful approach,” he told CQ Roll Call. “He didn’t really have an agenda.”
Lederman is survived by his wife, Lisa F. Lederman; his parents, Naomi and David; his children, Mitchell, Kyle and Morgan; and his siblings, Eve and Fay. He was buried at Judean Memorial Gardens in Olney, Md., on May 12.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.