Too little too late.
Head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced on Friday that she would be stepping down later on this year. Napolitano- a former Arizona governor- was Obama's first-term appointment for the DHS position and will reportedly be leaving to seek the president of the University of California system.
Napolitano's tenure at DHS has been marked with scandals and policies geared towards keeping an increasing number of Americans under suspicion. In 2009, the DHS released an assessment that deemed returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan as potential terrorist threats- an assessment that Napolitano stood by.
As the DHS was putting additional scrutiny towards veterans, Christians, gun owners and pro lifers, the agency ignored red flags leading up to two terrorist attacks on US soil- a June 1st, 2009 shooting at a Little Rock, AR Army recruiting station committed by a convert to Islam who trained in Yemen that killed Pvt William Andrew Long and wounded Pvt Quentin E Ezegwula. In November 2009, a muslim US Army major who had openly proclaimed support for the Taliban and communicated online with Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki opened fire on fellow troops at a processing center in Fort Hood, TX- killing 13 and wounding 32 before being stopped by police gunfire. The shooter survived and is still awaiting trial while the Department of Defense and Homeland Security refuse to acknowledge that it was a terrorist attack, instead referring to it as 'workplace violence'.
A little over a month later, 23 year old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit International Airport with plastic explosives sewn into his underwear on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab was overwhelmed by a quick-thinking Dutch passenger before the bomb could detonate and the pilot was able to land the plane safely. Immediately after the thwarted attack, Napolitano issued a statement proclaiming 'the system worked', despite a number of security lapses, the fact that Abdulmutallab had a valid visa for entering the United States and the fact that it the Dutch passenger who thwarted the Nigerian jihadi's bombing attempt.
While Napolitano's DHS continued warning the public about veterans, on May 1st, 2010 vendors in New York's Times Square alerted nearby policemen to a suspicious vehicle that was parked nearby with smoke coming out of it. The NYPD bomb squad was called in and the area was quickly cordoned off after patrolmen discovered what appeared to be a homemade IED in the back of a Nissan Pathfinder with Connecticut plates. After reviewing surveillance footage of the area, authorities identified Faisal Shahzad as the prime suspect. Shahzad- a naturalized US citizen from Pakistan- was on a Dubai-bound Emirates Air flight at JFK that was moments away from departing the gate.
This time, Napolitano didn't attempt to reassure the public with a message of 'the system worked'- instead, Mayor Bloomberg blamed the attempted bombing on an individual unhappy with President Obama's recently-passed healthcare law.
Another infamous Napolitano moment came when she was questioned by Arizona Sen John McCain in 2010 before a Senate committee. Both Napolitano and attorney general Eric Holder were critical of a recent law passed by state lawmakers in Arizona that would allow local police to check the residency status of anyone they came into contact with and turn them over to federal immigration officials if they're in the country illegally. When the senior Republican senator from Arizona asked Napolitano whether or not she had actually read the law, the DHS head answered "No" [as did Holder, but Napolitano's ignorance of the law seemed even more egregious considering she was governor of that state until recently- NANESB!].
More recently, however, Napolitano's DHS reportedly missed a number of red flags leading up to the Patriot's Day 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon by two Chechen brothers that killed three and injured more than 170 runners and spectators. Despite being on welfare, the two brothers- Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev- had travelled to the Chechnya and Dagestan region of Russia where muslim fighters have been clashing with Russian troops and militia loyal to the Kremlin since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Russian intelligence officials also reportedly warned their American counterparts about the suspicious activities of the brothers, but those warnings went unheeded by the DHS and other agencies- even as whistleblowers came forward with revelations about unprecedented surveillance of Americans by agencies such as the NSA and DHS.
That's to say nothing of the dysfunction along the US-Mexico border. Towards the end of Napolitano's tenure as governor of Arizona, rampant human trafficking from Mexico had given the capital city of Phoenix the dubious distinction as 'America's Kidnapping capital'. The 2010 ambush and murder of a US Border Patrol agent in Arizona by narcos armed with guns from the ATF's ill-advised Operation Fast and Furious was met with- at best- a collective shrug from DHS, despite Homeland Security being the parent agency for the Border Patrol.
Granted the Department of Homeland is a fairly new agency, but I don't think it's that much of a stretch to say that Napolitano has been the worst DHS head the agency has seen. It's also worth pointing out that the new agency also had a number of existing government agencies incorporated into it during its formation a decade ago- including Customs, Immigration, the Border Patrol and the US Coast Guard.
Ordinarily, I would be happy to see Napolitano leave, but if she managed to stay on after her 'the system worked' gaffe in 2009 it was pretty clear that she was only going to leave whenever she felt like it. Apparently the University of California system presidency is Napolitano's golden parachute, overseeing a University system that will continue cranking out sanctimonious progressive dullards with 17th century LGBTQ Literature studies degrees and six-figure student loan debt.
There's also the stark likelihood that President Obama- unencumbered by worrying about re-election- could manage to select somebody who's even worse than Napolitano for DHS, making it yet another government agency at his beck and call to be used on critics and opponents of his administration [if he hadn't already as some claim- NANESB!].
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