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Less Safe, Less Responsible By: Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
Washington Times | Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Give Janet A. Napolitano her due. The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has taken to heart President Obama's campaign pledges of "change" and "hope." Unfortunately, the changes she has effected seem generally to be to dismantle sensible Bush-era internal security policies and practices, replacing them with politically correct nostrums and generally inadequate programs.

The cumulative effect of such change can only be to give hope to our terrorist foes. If this keeps up, Ms. Napolitano's agency should be renamed the Homeland Insecurity Department. Consider the following illustrative examples:
  • Ms. Napolitano has been at the cutting edge of the Obama administration's efforts to define away the conflict in which we are engaged. Her most notable contribution has been to replace the term "terrorism" with "man-caused disasters." She claims it reflects her desire to "move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur." Sadly, such gambits predictably have the effect of further confusing the public about the gravity - let alone the source - of the dangers her department was established to counter.
  • Speaking of dangers, a report recently released by Ms. Napolitano's staff warned of the threat posed by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and other "right-wing extremists." This defamation is all the more egregious for its coming on the heels of a no-less-benighted Bush administration lexicological exercise - one that concealed the role of what authoritative Islam calls Shariah in spawning terrorism.
  • Then there is the problem posed for homeland security by untold numbers of persons illegally in the United States. A few months ago, Ms. Napolitano suspended workplace raids aimed at apprehending employees not legally here. Her department then freed and gave work permits to 27 of those previously arrested on her watch. She authorized resumption of the raids last week, but their principal target reportedly will be American employers rather than the illegals they hire. It is not clear whether the net effect of the Napolitano program will be to discourage or incentivize aliens to try to penetrate our borders.
  • Here's another straw in that wind: The Obama administration has submitted a budget to Congress that would deny state and local governments currently incarcerating illegal aliens the federal help they heretofore have received to defray the associated costs. If that is allowed to stand, the inevitable result would be to release into the general population thousands of possibly dangerous aliens, compounding our homeland insecurity problem.
  • There is another group of dangerous aliens Mr. Obama seems determined to unleash on the American people: Ms. Napolitano's organization may have to cope in the near future with 17 Chinese Uigars trained in terrorism in Afghanistan. They have been held in recent years at Guantanamo Bay and reportedly are slated for release in Alexandria. In addition, although legislators of both parties increasingly are voicing objections, the president's decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay without a plan for its detainees seems likely, all other things being equal, to result in many of them coming to penitentiaries here - at who knows what risk to the American people?
  • If Ms. Napolitano has her way, the Uigars will be able to get Virginia driver's licenses - like 13 of the 21 Sept. 11 terrorists - as she says she intends to repeal the Real ID Act. That statute, which requires (among other things) that the 50 states meet a high standard for issuing driver's licenses, was adopted belatedly on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. The commissioners emphasized that fraudulently obtained identity documents are "weapons" in the hands of our enemies.
The secretary's helpmate in repealing the Real ID Act is Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat. He is expected shortly to introduce a substitute dubbed the Pass ID Act. That title certainly is appropriate insofar as the draft bill seemingly would allow virtually anyone - including Guantanamo detainees, illegal alien employees of international organizations and a class called "other nonimmigrant aliens who are authorized to remain in the United States for an indefinite period" - to be eligible for temporary driver's licenses or other IDs.

Ms. Napolitano seems to want political cover for eviscerating the statute's eminently sensible and much-needed requirements with respect to driver's licenses. Even though more than 30 states are moving to satisfy those requirements and even though she has the authority to give the remaining states additional time to do so, the former governor of Arizona apparently is OK with once again giving terrorists a pass to gain access to our airplanes, government facilities, banks, etc.

Like much of the rest of the Obama administration's agenda with respect to our security, that related to safeguarding our homeland appears increasingly to be a wrecking operation. Ms. Napolitano's Homeland Security Department requires urgent adult supervision. Let us pray that it receives such oversight and course corrections from Congress - notably rejection of any repeal of the Real ID Act - before someone exploits the vulnerabilities she is needlessly re-creating.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.


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