If Barack Obama wants to convince America he takes the “protect and defend” portion of his oath of office seriously, it’s well past time for Janet Napolitano to go.
Given the lowlights of Janet Napolitano’s brief — though perhaps too long — career at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), she appears to be a woman-caused disaster in the making for Obama. Recent statements by Napolitano on the Sunday news talk shows are at least the third strike for the secretary. One has to wonder how many strikes she’ll be given before her politics and focus, if not her actual incompetence, result in al-Qaeda successfully striking America at home.
This is a woman with a mindset that suggests Islamic terrorism doesn’t actually exist:
Napolitano tells the German news site Spiegel Online that while she presumes there is always a threat from terrorism: “I referred to ‘man-caused’ disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”
Like any good political bureaucrat, Napolitano seems fixated on being prepared after the fact for anything that might happen — so she can get the memos written and filed correctly, perhaps. Unfortunately, her worldview does not lend itself to ferreting out terrorism any better than her Transportation Security Administration seems to do. And the “blame Bush” dig she employs doesn’t measure up this far in. It’s just more political gamesmanship from a woman appointed for the political favors she’s done for Obama and not for expertise:
She said the current system was in place before she took the helm at the Department of Homeland Security, and that she was “familiar” with that system. She said officials will now look “backwards” to determine what went wrong.
For further proof that she’s more politician than security expert, recall the first major report issued under her tenure. It amounted to a hit job on conservatives, taking a decidedly domestic political view as regards potential terror threats within the U.S.:
The “report” (PDF) was one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real.
I spent the day chasing down DHS spokespeople, who have been tied up preparing for a very important homeland security event later today: The First Lady is coming to visit their Washington office. Priorities, you know.
Now, the Sunday following a failed attempt to blow up a Northwest jet, Napolitano made the rounds of the nation’s talk shows. In the aftermath of the recent incident, she claimed “the system worked.”
First, consider this, sourced to a report by ABC’s Jake Tapper:
Bomb experts say there was more than enough explosive to bring down the Northwest jet, which had nearly 300 people aboard, had the detonator not failed, and the nation’s outdated airport screening machines may need to be upgraded.
“We’ve known for a long time that this is possible,” said Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar and ABC News consultant, “and that we really have to replace our scanning devices with more modern systems.”
Clarke said full body scans were needed, “but they’re expensive and they’re intrusive. They invade people’s privacy.”
Al-Qaeda, said Clarke, is aware of this vulnerability in the U.S. airport security system. “They know that this is a weakness and an Achilles’ heel in our airport security system and this is the second time they’ve tried it.”
Napolitano is trying to backtrack on her statement, beginning with an appearance on Fox News:
“Here, clearly, something went awry. We want to fix that problem,” Napolitano told Fox News on Monday.
She said officials are doing a complete review to determine what needs to change to prevent such a passenger from clearing security in the future.
“No secretary of Homeland Security would sit here and say that a system worked prior to this incident which allowed this individual to get on this plane,” Napolitano said. Her comments marked a change in tone from the day before, when she lauded security officials’ handling of the affair.
On Fox News, Napolitano clarified Monday that she was referring to security precautions that went into effect for other flights following the incident in Detroit.
“My comment was that once this incident occurred we were able to immediately notify the 128 flights already in the air from Europe,” she said. “We were able to immediately institute new security precautions. … And we were immediately able to provide additional security for the traveling public.” …
“This individual was able to get on this plane with this material. That should not have happened,” she said.
From the same Fox report above, what her Sunday statement actually reveals is her attitude toward Homeland Security. To Napolitano, it’s the bureaucratic shuffling that takes place after an incident that matters most. Unfortunately, that jibes with the policing, or criminal law, approach also advocated by Obama. Fighting terrorism is not a proactive military quest with this group, it is a reactive policing affair. What that doesn’t do is put America’s security first in our global battle with radical religious terrorists who seek to do America and Americans great harm and cause a large number of our deaths:
I think the important thing to recognize here is that once this incident occurred, everything happened that should have. … We trained for this. We planned for this.
If Obama wants to convince the American people he takes protecting them and the homeland seriously, he’d do well to end his extended golf outing in Hawaii. Once back, if he then wants to show his commitment to the kind of change he promised, change that appoints competent individuals based on their expertise, and not as political favors bestowed upon unqualified political hacks because they helped him get elected, he should fire the hapless Napolitano immediately upon his return.
Until he does that, Americans are right to question whether Obama’s chief concern is his backswing, or striking a blow against radical terrorists still so obviously intent on taking a fatal swing at us.