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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009
A Kind Word For Janet Napolitano

Homeland Security Secretary (and former Arizona Governor) Janet Napolitano is getting heat from the right for these comments made during an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: Madame Secretary, in your first testimony to the US Congress as Homeland Security Secretary you never mentioned the word "terrorism." Does Islamist terrorism suddenly no longer pose a threat to your country?

Napolitano: Of course it does. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word "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.

Some have remarked that this places terrorism on the same level as obesity or car crashes. In all fairness, I took it a different way. After 10 years of Napolitano holding high-level state office here in Arizona, I have noticed she combines the charm of pit bull with a tendency to indulge inpolicy wonkiness. You see the wonkiness in the part above, you see the pit bull in the part below:

SPIEGEL: This sounds quite different from what we heard from the Bush administration. How will the new anti-terror policy differ from the previous one?

Napolitano: Our policies will be guided by authoritative information. We also have assets at our disposal now that we did not have prior to 9/11. For example, we are much better able to keep track of travellers coming into the US than we were before. The third thing is to work with our international partners and allies to make sure that we are getting information and sharing information in an appropriate and real-time fashion.

Leave aside the fact that the information sharing and entrance screening she refers to were initiated by the previous administration she so derides, that's just the pit bull talking. The key is the elaboration of "nuance" with a healthy dose of supervisory systems and cooperation. Terrorism won't be forgotten by Napolitano's department, it will just be managed like any other program.

Now if there isn't a terrorist attack under Napolitano's watch, or at least for a decent interval afterwards, then she gets off scott free for the "man-caused" remark. If we get hit, then that remark will become her political epitaph. Actually Homeland Security is a pretty thankless job; much like a baseball umpire if you are doing well nobody notices you but if you screw up you end up with you picture next to Michael Brown's in the history book. However that's the price Napolitano was more than willing to pay to bail out on the fiscal crisis she helped create in Arizona.

So anyway I'll let the remark go and hope (and pray) that I'm given no reason to resurrect it in the future.