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Napolitano Testifies on Protecting Homeland

Homeland Security Secretary-designate Janet Napolitano, left, is greeted on Capitol Hill by Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman, right, and the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Susan Collins, prior to testifying before the committee's hearing on her nomination. (Kevin Wolf/Associated Press)

By Spencer Hsu
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), Barack Obama's nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, is expected to sail through her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill today, although she could face some tough questions on her record on immigration while serving as chief executive of a key border state.

In a five-page opening statement that was distributed in advance of her testimony, Napolitano vows to "create a unified vision" for the department, streamline threat and incident communications, recruit, train and retain "the best and the brightest," and heighten cooperation with non-federal partners.

"By uniting, professionalizing and strengthening this department we will mature it, simplify it, clarify it and ultimately place it in a better position to fulfill the many duties we are asked to carry out," the statement says.

The full text of her opening statement is posted below.

Statement of Governor Janet Napolitano before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on her nomination to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security January 15, 2009

Good Morning. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Collins, Members of the Committee, it is a privilege and an honor to be seated before you today in nomination to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. And it is humbling, because as you know better than anyone, the urgent mission of this enormous agency is critical to the lives and the security of every citizen of the United States.

Mr. Chairman, Senator Collins, I particularly note and commend your foresight and leadership with respect to this agency. After the attacks on 9-11, you understood the need for a more organized, systematic approach in response to acts of domestic terrorism, and you held the vision necessary to forge this new department.

Granted, the birth of an agency is not easy - particularly one that involves 22 separate agencies and more than 200,000 employees. But much has been accomplished in a remarkably short period of time. I salute Secretary Chertoff and Congress for what has been done. I also thank Secretary Chertoff for a well-planned and thorough transition process, the first ever for this department.

I suspect, however, that we agree our work here is not finished. I look forward to our discussion this morning about your observations and interests in this complex organization.

The overriding and urgent mission of the United States Department of Homeland Security is contained in the name of the agency itself. To secure the homeland means to protect our nation's borders by finding and killing the roots of terrorism and to stop those who intend to hurt us; to wisely enforce the rule of law at our borders; to protect our national cyber infrastructure; and to prepare for and respond to natural and man-caused disasters with speed, skill, compassion, and effectiveness.

The Homeland Security mission is of paramount importance to the Obama Administration, to this Committee, and to me. The President-elect and I believe that, in meeting this responsibility, we must deal fairly with all persons and hold firmly to our principles of due process and equal protection under the law.

I also believe that a close working relationship with Congress and with this Committee is essential. I recognize this Committee's expertise, and I will cooperate fully with the Committee and its important oversight functions. I also look forward to the Committee's assistance with and support for identifying ways to make the work of DHS more effective and efficient. After all, we share a common goal: a strong and vigorous Department of Homeland Security.

As Governor of Arizona for the past six years, I have lived at the nexus of a key issue that faces this agency and this nation: that of immigration. I have walked, flown over, and ridden horseback along our southwest border. I appreciate its vastness, as well as the grave consequences of our broken system. I have acted - to the extent a state can - to deal with those realities, and I suspect many of your questions this morning will focus on what we have done and what yet needs to be done. I look forward to becoming as familiar with our northern border as I am the border with Mexico.

I also invite your questions about my work in the myriad of other all-hazard areas which intersect with the mission of DHS. For example, barely a year into my first term as Governor, Arizona saw the Lewis Prison Hostage Crisis - the longest prison standoff in U.S. history, and one of the few that was resolved without loss of life.

The Kinder-Morgan pipeline break was a man-made disaster, a major disruption to a pipeline supplying gasoline to the Phoenix area. Response to the immediate crisis uncovered critical system deficiencies; as a result, we implemented systemic changes and new procedures to ensure sharing of information between government and the private sector to ensure continuity of critical service.

The effects of drought in the western United States are acutely evident in Arizona, particularly in our forests which now suffer larger and more ferocious wildfires. We fought those fires, and used that experience to forge new, more effective forest management and enhanced fire and disaster response.

Arizona now has an online 2-1-1 system to swiftly deliver information to our citizens in an emergency; our state was among those that mobilized early and effectively to accept and assist evacuees from Hurricane Katrina; and Arizona was one of the first states to create an anti-terrorism law enforcement fusion center that has been cited as a model for other states.

Cyber security and the protection of the technology critical infrastructure have been a top priority in Arizona. As Attorney General, I created the Computer Crimes Unit to train law enforcement in the identification and investigation of cybercrimes; the Unit successfully prosecuted some of the first cybercrime cases in Arizona. As Governor, I created the Statewide Information Security and Privacy Office to ensure adequate controls and safeguards are in place for all State of Arizona government technology systems and business practices.

As Governor, my role is that of Chief Executive Officer and includes all the complexities of management, budget and accountability that are inherent in a multi-faceted organization.

The record of my work in these areas is a public one, and again, I am pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Please allow me to turn now to some of the issues that I know are of concern to you, and that President-Elect Obama has pledged to address.

To effectively secure our homeland, we must make the operations of this agency more effective. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security was essentially the largest re-organization of the federal government since 1947. As you know well, it was formed of 22 once-separate federal agencies and operates out of 70 buildings at 40 different locations in the Washington area. Forty percent of the workforce is contracted out and morale is low.

If you allow me to do this job, we will work to create a unified vision for this agency. In its short existence, we have seen - sometimes too clearly - the consequences of parochial lines and failure to communicate across those lines. We must and will streamline those communications to make certain the right person has the right information at the right time. We will recruit, train and retain the best and the brightest.

We must and we will build up the working relationships with the other federal agencies whose information, skill and expertise is essential to execution of a coordinated, fully functioning homeland security strategy that is deserving of the respect of American citizens.

The federal government cannot do this alone. As we strengthen these federal links to fulfill our mission of securing the homeland, we will also heighten and extend our cooperation with state, local, and tribal governments, and the many expert law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency management professionals. We will improve information sharing, strengthen our enforcement mechanisms and intensify accountability, and we will provide more effective means for the private sector to join us in meeting our goals for the safety and security of our nation.

By uniting, professionalizing and strengthening this department we will mature it, simplify it, clarify it and ultimately place it in a better position to fulfill the many duties we are asked to carry out.

Before we proceed further, please allow me to thank the current staff of the Department, especially Deputy Secretary Paul Schneider, for their responsiveness to my questions, for their thorough briefings, and for their commitment to making this transition as smooth as possible. Our goal is to have the national security team in place on January 21st and to have a seamless handoff of responsibility. The DHS staff has worked hard to make that a reality and I am grateful.

Again, I am privileged to appear before you today in consideration of serving as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. I look forward to working with the leadership and members of this Committee to make the Department as effective and efficient as possible. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

By Washington Post Editor  |  January 15, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Cabinet  
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Please, do not repeat the word "Homeland." I am not a bird. And, I am not a Nazi. The German Nazis used this term. It was something like "heimatland" or "vaterland." "Homeland Security," what is that? Let's please disavow ourselves of these grade-school wordplays. There is no Homeland. Yes, we have a nation, a country, a Republic. We have American citizens. We have people who believe in America. But, we do not have a "homeland." We do not have a Homeland Constitution, or a Homeland Air Force, or a President of the Homeland. Please, stop with this nonsense, wherever it came from. It is silly, and mind-numbingly irritating.

Posted by: smharmon1 | January 21, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Gov. Schwarzenegger reminded us today that "anyone can become an American".

I can solve the immigration problem for you.

Normalize the borders, open the door for legal immigration and let's make us a whole bunch of new Americans.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | January 15, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

NFLDOLPHINSFAN- What needs to be addressed is the fact that their are "Immigrants" from all over.

That there are Foreign Countries, and Foreign Countries with Ideologies contrary to ours.

That there are "Good Neighbors", and BAD Neighbors!

Mexico unfortunately crosses the line on most of those! It encourages illegal movement of People. It feels it has some right to actively get it's People involved in our Local, and Government Politics, while STRICTLY preventing US Citizens from doing anything of the sort there! It feels it has some RIGHT to dump it's Poor, or even Wealthy Children into and onto OUR Schools!
It also has used and abused the US in every conceivable way imaginable, and our elected Traitorous Trash has let them!

I hope one day the US returns the favor! As is, I do not think I am going to be too worried about what you all allow to have happen to you much longer!

At least I am Intelligent enough to know it was my Own President, and a whole bunch of Quisling Representatives that I now Curse, and not the People they were responsible to me, to prevent from destroying my World.

Vincente Fox, would have done me better!

Posted by: SAINT---The | January 15, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

(from the prior thread):

• Obama has "natural born" citizen problems

• Biden has MBNA problems

• Napolitano has 9/11 problems

• Geithner has tax and nanny problems

• Clinton has "Bill problems"

• Eric Holder has pardon problems

• Bill Richardson has FBI problems

• Ray LaHood has earmark problems

• Leon Panetta had a Dianne Feinstein problem (that's since been cleared up)

• Rahm Emanuel has a Blagojevich problem (but Team Obama says it's not a problem, so never mind)

• Carol Browner has "Socialist" problems

Posted by: JakeD | January 15, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Our country can be easily secured. The government, however, has repeatedly refused to do so.

There had better be no "free" AMNESTY for the estimated 10-to-20-million illegal immigrants on US soil. I am one of over 150-million US Citizens believe our country can do better than an AMNESTY and granting illegal immigrants permanent residency. And by "free", we (150-million US Citizens) expect to see $1.5-trillion raised each year off of guest worker fees, visa fees, and permanent residency application fees. The $1.5-trillion is not unrealistic and immigrants & employers can easily afford to pay fees.

There had better be no "free" education for children who's both parents and/or guardians are foreign nationals. (And I am serious.) Have parents or guardians of children pay the local school districts $100/week per child (plus other fees that can varry school-district to school-district) until one or both parents or both guardians become US Citizens. If they refuse to pay, they are a PUBLIC CHARGE and subject to either sponsors paying the fees or immediate deportation. The only group of immigrants to be exempted from this requirement are the refugees, for their first three years in the USA only, after which time they would be subject to compliance.

The vast majority of US Citizens oppose AMNESTY or PERMANENT RESIDENCY to illegal immigrants. To give them anything rewards illegal behavior - and it is dead wrong to support rewarding illegal immigrants with permanent residency.

It is clear that if the Democrats want to occupy the WHITE HOUSE for longer than four years, they had better generate $1-trillion dollars each year in fees from any AMNESTY or PERMANENT RESIDENCY to illegal immigrants proposal.

Immigration can be a good thing when done in moderation. Open borders is not the right approach.

One last thing... I am not anti-immigrant. I am actually married to an immigrant and have been through the VISA process several times. I am anti-illegal immigrant and think our US Citizens need to gang-up and teach our elected politicians a few things, that telling 150-million US Citizens we are wrong will not help this country or their political party at all.

Thank you!

Posted by: NFLDolphinsFan | January 15, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse


• What happened to Homeland Security warnings of "heightened risk" during Presidential transition?

• How about the late November FBI warning about possible Northeast train station attacks?

• "Amtrak Joe" Biden's longstanding warnings about security flaws along the Amtrak Northeast corridor -- why isn't he waving this whistle stop tour to a halt?

It is both mystifying and frightening to contemplate the unnecessary risk to which President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are subjecting themselves by going through with Saturday's planned pre-inauguration "whistle stop" train ride from Philadelphia to Washington.

In his farewell press conference on Monday, President Bush seemed to go out of his way to twice repeat that the greatest threat the nation faces is another terrorist attack. At one point in his presser, he said that by giving official voice to the threat, he was not "trying to set something up." Here are President Bush's exact words:

"There is an enemy that still is out there.

"You know, people can maybe try to write that off as, you know, 'he's trying to set something up.'

"I'm telling you there's an enemy that would like to attack America -- Americans -- again. There just is. That's the reality of the world."

George W. Bush could not have been more plain-spoken, candid and direct. The incoming White House team ignores his words -- which he most likely thought about before uttering them -- at their peril.


OR (if link is corrupted):

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 15, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

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