A decade after 9/11, cyberattack is biggest worry, says Janet Napolitano

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the US has become 'categorically safer' since 9/11. Cyberterrorism now tops the list of security concerns, she said at a recent Monitor breakfast.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington DC on Aug. 30.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was governor of Arizona before taking her current post. She was the guest at the Aug. 30 Monitor breakfast in Washington.

The biggest security challenge 10 years after 9/11:

"One, I think, is cyber, in part because it is a rapidly growing area. It is by nature international in scope. There are no international conventions really to hang your hat on, so we are really dealing in a very amorphous world."

Her response to former Vice President Dick Cheney's claim that the US would be safer if President Obama adopted Bush administration policies on enhanced interrogation:

"Categorically the country is safer now than it was prior to 9/11. We have many layers of security in place that didn't exist before, beginning with intelligence gathering and information sharing...."

On Gov. Rick Perry (R) of Texas recently sending her department a bill for $350 million seeking reimbursement for the federal government's alleged failure to fully pay the cost of jailing criminal aliens:

"This is not something that Congress has been willing to appropriate funds for.... My role is to do everything I can to reduce the number of illegal immigrants that enter Texas and Arizona and New Mexico and California.... In that sense, we are fulfilling our role very strongly."

On the Obama administration's announcement in August that it would focus on deporting illegal immigrants who have criminal convictions or pose a threat to the community:

"The numbers are going to be very robust in terms of removal. We don't fool around about this. Our border enforcement is second to none, and we have more coming all the time."

On critics who say that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg overreacted in preparing for hurricane Irene by halting subway service and evacuating hundreds of thousands of citizens from low-lying areas:

"I would grade New York City very highly on this storm. The grumblings ... reflect what I like to call the blinding clarity of hindsight."

On prospects that federal aid to victims of Irene would get caught in political wrangling, with House majority leader Eric Cantor saying additional disaster assistance funds would have to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere:

"That should not be the first concern of the Congress. And I don't think it is. I think the first concern of the Congress is what do we need to protect the safety and the security of the people that we are all privileged to represent."

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