Is Janet Napolitano to blame for Flight 253 security failure?
Republicans have focused blame for the security failures of Northwest Flight 253 on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. But there are other reasons that many conservatives are dissatisfied with her.
In the rush to fix blame for a failure to prevent last week’s attack on Northwest Flight 253, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano quickly emerged as the Obama administration’s designated lightning rod.Skip to next paragraph
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She has, in one important respect, brought the criticism upon herself. On the Sunday talk shows days after the incident, she said that "the system worked" – an assertion that President Obama himself contradicted two days later in calling the incident a "systematic failure."
Yet, in many respects, the statement by Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana that the blame for allowing a bomber to board a Detroit-bound plane in Amsterdam "rests solely on the shoulders of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano” is a curious.
It was Nigerian and Dutch officials who were responsible for airport checkpoints. It was the US State Department that did not not revoke the multiple-entry visa of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young Nigerian with suspected ties to terrorism. And it was the job of the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, to make sure there was adequate sharing of intelligence among agencies.
Immigration reform in the background
Yet for some groups, Napolitano makes for an especially tempting target. As the standard-bearer for the Obama administration's desire to reform national immigration policy, she was a lightning rod before Mr. Abdulmutallab ever boarded a plane for Detroit. The prospect of damaging her political credibility – if not bringing her down entirely – would, by extension, be a significant victory against Obama's immigration policy.
Moreover, Napolitano has presided over a department that has stoked fears of domestic extremist activity from conservatives and libertarians dissatisfied with Mr. Obama's election. "The historical election of an African-American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for right-wing extremist recruitment and radicalization," a department report dated April 7 read.
Napolitano had to apologize because the report suggested that veterans could be particularly prone to radicalization, an assertion that veterans' groups vehemently protested.