Yesterday Secretary Napolitano reached out to the public with a message to encourage citizen participation in the fight against terrorism. (Yes, I said it: terrorism. And so did she.) The message isn’t a new one but it is good to hear repeated.

For those paying attention former Secretary Chertoff repeated over and over that complaceny was one of his biggest fears in our fight against terrorism. Reinforcing individual responsibility and encouraging participation in our battle against terrorism was a focal point of the Department’s communication efforts.

From the beginning of the Department its leaders have preached citizen awareness and responsibility. The “duct tape and batteries” advice, so ridiculed by the media, was simply a way of letting the public know how it can stay prepared. Viligant and alert passengers was an integral piece of the layered security approach implemented by TSA.

The Secretary’s speech last night didn’t chart a new direction for homeland security. But it was an important message for several reasons. It did reinforce that the previous administration used the word “terrorism” to inform and educate as opposed to frightening. It did remind us that every individual plays a role in protecting all of us against people who want to do us harm. It reminded everyone that terrorism is real and complacency can be detrimental.

Sometimes change is good and sometimes it is unnecessary.

Jeff Sural serves as counsel in the Legislative & Public Policy Group at Alston & Bird, LLP. He will focus his practice on homeland security and transportation matters on Capitol Hill and in federal government agencies. Read More