For all of the names being bounced around for DHS Secretary, a couple have caught me by surprise, but none of them was as jaw dropping as the news that the Congressional Black Caucus is encouraging President Obama to nominate Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee as a replacement for outgoing-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. I can only hope that others see her consideration for one of the toughest jobs in the world for what it really is – an unrealistic and unfunny joke.
There’s a lot of talk about who is best suited to take Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s spot when she leaves the department. Less commonly discussed at present is what this new secretary should do. Napolitano has done an admirable job during her tenure, but there is always room for improvement. Here is my wishlist for what the next DHS Secretary can and should accomplish.
It’s fascinating to see the how various news and blogosphere outlets have responded to the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The names being talked about as her successor have been some of the anticipated suspects, as well as a few surprises. Probably the biggest surprise for me is all of the eager talk about the NYPD’s Ray Kelly and former DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Hall Lute.
Charles Kenny, a Fellow with the New America Foundation and the Center for Global Development, published an opinion piece in Bloomberg BusinessWeek called, “The Case for Abolishing the DHS.” He makes some powerfully accurate assessments on the return on investment from DHS, but as powerful as those arguments and examples may be, Kenny’s declaration that “closing the DHS is a small government solution that works” is a glass-is- half-empty summation that misses some important metrics.
Due to the Department of Homeland Security’s short history, there have only been three people at the top of DHS leading the charge to protect our great nation. This is a tough position to fill properly. We need a strong and experienced leader in this position and the vital role they play. “Who” is the issue of the moment, and narrowing down my short list is easy. Former U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen is at the top.
If you want to have a successful relationship in anything, communications are critical. I have to wonder if DHS really cares about its relationships with anyone. The department’s communications with just about everyone are lacking of late, and this is seen most clearly in the way DHS recently rolled out its newest budget submission. It seems like DHS has little-to-no interest in telling the public how they want to spend taxpayer dollars.
In Security Debrief’s fourth annual April Fools coverage, we’ve collected some stories the rest of the media somehow missed.
This past Monday, Politico hosted a Playbook breakfast conversation with the three individuals who have served as DHS Secretary since its inception – Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano. Former Governor Ridge who addressed why America needs a cabinet-level agency to address homeland security issues. While I am a firm believer that America needs a Department of Homeland Security, I am also a believer in continuous improvement, and in that respect, congressional oversight should rightfully be focused on asking questions about DHS as it starts its second decade.
A lot can change in a decade, but as the Department of Homeland Security celebrates its 10th anniversary, its unchanging mission is something that should be applauded, but in other ways should be of even greater concern. Along the way there have been problems, but lessons have been public, have been learned, and have been applied, at some times better than at others. Tom Ridge’s original credo of “You cannot protect the country from inside the Beltway,” remains true today.
The sequester has nearly arrived with little sign officials in Washington will reach an agreement to amend the billions in spending cuts. While both sides of the aisle have speculated on how these cuts will impact the U.S. economy, TSA Administrator John Pistole recently testified about how the sequester will impact airport security, echoing a warning from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano that security lines at airports will grow longer post-sequester. Yet, the length of airport security lines are a result of TSA’s screening methodology, not its budget and staff.