Remember when President Bush told FEMA Director Michael Brown he was doing a heck of a job with the Hurricane Katrina response? Now comes Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano's characterization and subsequent spin that "the system worked" in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab's Detroit terror scare proves that she isn't qualified to be the head of Homeland Security in a post-9/11 world. The Christmas Day terrorism scare over Detroit was a test and she failed it.
Roughly eight years has passed since 2,973 people were killed on September 11, 2001 because terrorists boarded a plane and used it as a weapon. This week, another terrorist successfully boarded a plane with the intent of using it as a weapon against Americans - just like on September 11, 2001. And Janet Napolitano, the woman charged with keeping us safe, thinks all went well. We are lucky that Abdulmuttalab's bomb failed to go off as he planned. We are also lucky to find out now that Napolitano isn't equipped to lead a massive agency designed to keep us safe from international terrorists. Napolitano should resign and if she fails to do so then President Obama should ask for her resignation and replace her immediately. Napolitano should be replaced before she has to deal with an incident far greater than the one she just glossed over. Whatever her spin is now of her initial reaction to a major terrorist breach of security isn't sufficient. Americans have lost faith in Janet Napolitano.
It's not that Napolitano wasn't a good Arizona Attorney General or Governor - she may well have been. Since I have never lived in Arizona I don't have an opinion on her tenure and legacy. But the idea that a politician is equipped to lead a national agency charged with keeping Americans safe just because she worked her way up the Arizona political ladder is naïve and dangerous. Being the Secretary of Homeland Security is a serious job that requires thoughtful expertise in complicated international issues and shouldn't be a political reward. Napolitano doesn't have the international experience or the anti-terrorism background needed to lead an agency with over 200,000 employees and a budget of more than $50 billion. Napolitano's experience in immigration and border issues from her days in Arizona equip her for the United States Border Control Agency or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But it is clear that she isn't qualified to be Secretary of Homeland Security. With politics being what it is - patronage for political colleagues - she flew through the confirmation process with little questioning from the Democratically controlled Senate. Most Americans now have lost faith in her ability to keep us safe from terrorists in the sky or on land. She has proven to be a weak link in a critical role and President Obama should let her go.
But don't count on a rational decision coming out of the White House on this issue anytime soon. It took President Obama 3 full days to break away from his Hawaii trip to respond to this serious breach in security that affects every American. When Obama finally spoke about the incident he said, "We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable." Of course, he did rest and for 3 days. Americans would have more confidence in President Obama and Janet Napolitano if he would have spoken these words immediately after the incident instead of golfing in Hawaii and lounging poolside for several days; and if she would have ordered an immediate review of all airline security procedures - not suggested that all went as planned. The idea that a large airliner was almost blown from the sky if not for luck and our President went to play golf without speaking to nervous Americans is scary enough but sending out his Secretary of Homeland Security to tell us all went well is even more troubling. We want to believe the President when he said on February 23, 2009, "My highest priority is to keep the American people safe." But if his top priority is to keep us safe from terrorists then he needs to replace an obvious weak link in the system.
Luck and luck alone averted a major terrorist attack on American soil on Christmas Day 2009. And the Obama team failed to take the incident seriously. A full four days after the foiled attack someone in the Administration finally got around to requesting a full review of airline procedures. It is pretty clear that the Obama team isn't as experienced in fighting terrorism as they should be. Less than a year into the Obama Administration's term and its clear we need some change in leadership - Napolitano must go.