Last week, Secretary Chertoff returned to his native state of New Jersey on what homeland security insiders are euphemistically calling his “Farewell Tour” to provide insight into the lessons he has learned during his tenure as DHS Secretary. He talked about the issues the country still faces and warned (yet again) against complacency. Especially in light of the recent attacks in Mumbai, the new administration – andindeed the nation as a whole – would do well to heed his recommendations.
Following Chertoff’s talk, US Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) honed in on one particular issue that has been a consistent thorn in Chertoff’s side – the completely dysfunctional process called congressional oversight of DHS. Andrews speaks from a position of authority as he is a member of the House Armed Services Committee – a model many have suggested makes sense to follow for DHS oversight by forming authorizing committees. Andrews is the latest in a string of responsible Members who agree that 80+ congressional committees cannot provide DHS with what it needs – a true Congressional partner in helping keep America safe and secure while, at the same time, building a culture of resilience.
Streamlining congressional oversight of DHS should be a major point of emphasis in DHS Secretary-designate Janet Napolitano’s upcoming confirmation hearing.
The question is whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is paying attention to this issue – and to her own members, such as Rep. Andrews. She should – and she should say so very soon and take this issue off the table for the new Congress. Madam Speaker, what say you?