Napolitano Outlines Broad Homeland Security Agenda

By Matthew Harwood

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano outlined the Department of Homeland Security's broad agenda yesterday during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.

“To secure the homeland,” she said, according to The New York Times, “means to protect our nation’s borders by finding and killing roots of terrorism and stop those who intend to hurt us, to wisely enforce the rule of law at our borders, to protect our national cyber infrastructure, and to prepare for and respond to natural and man-caused disasters with speed, skill and effectiveness.” (subscription only) gave this description of the confirmation hearing:

"Napolitano found common ground with committee members on cybersecurity, the need for increased protection at laboratories handling biological agents, improving security for ground transportation, such as trains, and improving interoperability — the ability to communicate and share data — among security forces. She said 'the key obstacle was funding' regarding her own efforts to improve interoperability in Arizona."

Regarding interoperable communications, she promised to bring into DHS "tech-savvy" people to get the job done.

A border state governor, Napolitano said DHS would deal with illegal immigration as both a problem of supply and demand. To diminish the demand for illegal labor, she said DHS will forge a closer relationship to the Department of Justice to prosecute employers that hire illegal aliens.

On another matter dear to Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), the committee's chairman, Napolitano fudged on whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency should remain within DHS.

“The issue of FEMA’s status is not a simple one and does not lend itself to short answers or merely reactive measures," she said in her written statement. "As long as FEMA remains at DHS, I will work to incorporate FEMA within DHS so that it achieves maximum effectiveness.”

Lieberman, however, stressed his opposition to moving FEMA out of DHS in his opening statement.

“I believe that is exactly the wrong way to go. It makes no sense. It would take us back to where we were on 9/11, when the terrorists exploited the vulnerability, our national vulnerability, caused by the separation and balkanization of our many homeland security agencies [to] attack and kill 3,000 people.  . . .  I will do all that I can to stop such disintegration.”


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