Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Homeland Insecurity, American Style

John Perazzo | Wednesday, May 06, 2009

During her first few weeks on the job, the Secretary of America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, has shown herself to be unqualified for her new post in a number of significant ways. she has proudly banished the word “terrorism” from the federal lexicon; she is ignorant of the most elementary facts regarding 9/11; she is eager to blame the United States for drug cartels violence in Mexico, without a shred of evidence; despite that violence, she is demonstrably averse to halting illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border; and she is inclined to smear American conservatives as potential “terrorists.” Because of her already dismal performance, some have begun to call for Napolitano’s resignation. Republican Congressman John Carter of Texas, for one, says that Napolitano “has no business serving in the position she’s in now” and “should be fired by the administration.” The conservative group Move America Forward is calling for Napolitano’s dismissal on grounds that she is “so ignorant” of a host of key facts that bear heavily on her ability to fulfill the duties of her office.

Although much commentary has focused on the recent report that brands conservatives as terrorists, the former Arizona governor still enjoys an undeserved reputation as a tough border governor. Consider Napolitano’s record vis à vis illegal immigration. As Arizona governor, she vetoed a bill that sought to eliminate voter fraud by requiring voters to present a valid driver’s license or two alternate forms of identification when casting their ballots. According to Napolitano, such a requirement would have disenfranchised “poor voters” who might not possess the requisite documents. She also supported a proposal to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants; she supported a Senate bill that would have granted amnesty to millions of illegals; she vetoed a state bill that would have required police to enforce federal immigration laws; she vetoed measures to cut illegal-alien welfare benefits and college-tuition discounts; she vetoed a proposal that would have allowed local police and federal immigration officials to work collaboratively on immigration cases; and she opposed legislation that would have officially barred the use of the easily forged Mexican Matricula Consular card as a valid form of identification.

During her stint at DHS, Napolitano already has called off a series of scheduled immigration raids at U.S. workplaces. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents busted dozens of illegal aliens at a Bellingham, Washington engine plant, a furious Napolitano chastised ICE supervisors and ordered an immediate investigation into the raid because it violated President Obama’s campaign pledge (to Hispanic lobby groups) that illegal aliens would not be arrested at their workplaces. Moreover, she supports a pathway to citizenship whereby illegals could, within a relatively short time, become naturalized.

It is difficult to see how Americans are made safer by Napolitano’s stance on immigration.

In an April interview with CNN’s John King, Napolitano casually dismissed Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio’s assertion that illegal aliens should be prosecuted and jailed. Said the DHS Secretary:

“Sheriff Joe … knows that there aren’t enough law-enforcement officers, courtrooms or jail cells in the world to do what he is saying. What we have to do is target the real evil-doers in this business, the employers who consistently hire illegal labor, the human traffickers who are exploiting human misery. And yes, when we find illegal workers, yes, appropriate action, some of which is criminal, most of that is civil, because crossing the border is not a crime per se. It is civil.”

Contrary to Napolitano’s absurd claim, however, illegal immigration is indeed a criminal offense under United States law. Section 8, Title 1325 of the U.S. Code clearly states:

Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willfull concealment of a material fact shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Why doesn’t the head of DHS know that illegal immigration is a crime?

In a March 2009 speech to the Brookings Institution, Napolitano characterized U.S. efforts to protect its southern border as insensitive displays of jingoistic arrogance. “One of the things that we need to be sensitive to,” she said, “is the very real feelings among southern border states and in Mexico that if things are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border.” Absent from Napolitano’s logic was any recognition of the rapidly growing epidemic of violence, abductions, and murders near the Mexican border—a state of affairs that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the situation along the U.S.-Canada border. To make matters worse, in an April 20th interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Napolitano claimed, incorrectly, that some of the 9/11 hijackers had entered the U.S. through Canada.

Napolitano is exceedingly prone to prevarication. For instance, she claimed recently that “70 percent of the weapons in the hands of the [Mexican] drug cartels are coming from the U.S.” But in fact, more than two-thirds of the guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes are never even sent to the U.S. for tracing, because their markings make it obvious that they originated from somewhere else. Moreover, a large number of the recovered weapons lack serial numbers entirely and thus cannot be traced to any location. In the final analysis, a mere 17 percent of all the guns in question can actually be traced to America.

That is a far cry from Napolitano’s 70-percent fairytale.

One of Napolitano’s most controversial moves as DHS Secretary has been to break with the Department’s tradition of warning the American public about potential terrorist threats by Islamic extremists. Instead, she refers to such acts of terrorism as “man-caused disasters.” In an interview with Germany’s Spiegel Online, she was asked whether her avoidance of the term “terrorism” meant that “Islamist terrorism suddenly no longer pos[es] a threat to your country.” She replied:

Of course it does [pose a threat]. I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word “terrorism,” I referred to “man-caused” disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.

It seems, however, that Napolitano’s aversion to the so-called “politics of fear” comes into play only with regard to Islamic terrorists. By contrast, unfounded smears implying that American conservatives represent a “terrorist” threat fall well within the bounds of legitimate political discourse, according to Napolitano.

You may recall that in April, Napolitano’s DHS released a report warning that “right-wing extremists” who were “hate-oriented” might be “gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues” such as “the economic downturn,” “the election of the first African American president,” and “the possible passage of new restrictions on firearms.” Particularly susceptible to recruitment, added the report, were: “anti-government” groups; people “dedicated to…opposition to abortion or immigration”; and military veterans (returning from Iraq and Afghanistan) who face “significant challenges reintegrating into their communities.”

Remarkably, the text of this DHS report was liberally peppered with explicit references to the otherwise forbidden word—“terrorism”—as the supposedly exclusive domain of “right-wingers.” The report said, for example, that its warnings would be “provided to…counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter…terrorist attacks against the United States”; that DHS “has no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits”; that during the 1990s, “an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers…contributed to the growth in the number of domestic right-wing terrorist and extremist groups”; that “[t]he possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups”; that “the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years”; that “white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage…[have] contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups”; and that DHS “assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”

So much for avoiding the word “terrorism.”

For actions such as this, the aforementioned Rep. John Carter says, “We shouldn’t even give [Napolitano] the respect of letting her resign. She should be fired by the administration for accusing honest, American citizens—because of their political beliefs—of being domestic terrorists.” The Texas Republican says he will “keep pounding” the issue “until we get rid of this woman.”

Congresswoman Mary Fallin, R-OK, declares that Napolitano is “out of touch with mainstream America” if she believes that returning war veterans and people who support the Second Amendment are predisposed to engage in “terrorism.” In addition, says Fallin, the DHS Secretary “insulted our friends in Canada by falsely claiming the 9/11 terrorists came from there.”

According to Move Forward America (MFA), Napolitano has demonstrated that she is “ignoran[t] about Islamic terrorism” and “has no clue about the details of what happened to America on September 11, 2001.” “Her outlook and priorities are exactly backward and plainly dangerous,” says MFA. “Napolitano is unfit to serve as secretary of Homeland Security and President Obama must fire her before she causes more damage to our country.”

Examining her belief system, damage is the most likely prognosis.
John Perazzo is the Managing Editor of DiscoverTheNetworks and is the author of The Myths That Divide Us: How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations. For more information on his book, click here. E-mail him at

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