Grassroots Commentary

Remembering Janet Napolitano

Bill Franklin · Jul. 22, 2013

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano announced last week that she will be leaving the Obama Administration in September. She will become president of the California University System – a position which pays $750,000 annually, almost triple her current federal salary. The move has yet to be approved by the California Board of Regents, but approval is not in doubt. Napolitano was nominated by a secretive search committee made up of several regents.

Napolitano’s nomination culminated a process of unknown duration that considered over 300 candidates. Napolitano, who has no advanced degree other than a law degree and has no experience in academic administration, was selected, according to the committee chair Sherry Lansing, for her “passion for education” and for being “a remarkably gifted candidate.” Are we talking about the same Janet Napolitano? Having spent 20 years in university academia I know how universities function. There are more big ego PhDs per square yard of university real estate than any other place on earth. Universities are as unlike government organizations as black and white or night and day or similes and metaphors.

Ms. Lansing continued,

While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without a doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible university. She will bring fresh eyes and a new sensibility – not only to UC, but to all of California. She will stand as a vigorous advocate for faculty, students and staff at a time when great changes in our state, and across the globe, are presenting as many opportunities as challenges.

Wow! What’s this California regent been smoking? Not only is Napolitano unfit to lead the California University System, she was unfit to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Her preparatory experience for the latter was one and a half undistinguished terms as Arizona’s governor unless stacking the state’s courts with radical judges counts as an achievement. Before that she was her state’s Attorney General for a term in which her only notable achievement was to ban Christmas decorations on public property. When Clinton became president, he selected her to be the US Attorney for the District of Arizona. And prior to that, she was a partner in the second largest Arizona law firm during which she represented Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas hatchet job. David Brock’s book, The Real Anita Hill, reports that Napolitano interrupted the testimony of her own corroborating witness during the Thomas Senate hearings when the witness began disputing Hill’s version of the facts. After they conferred “off the record” for a few minutes, Napolitano’s witness had a sudden attack of amnesia.

Napolitano is an anti-conservative zealot who early in her DHS tenure issued a report entitled Rightwing (sic) Extremism: Current Economic And Political Climate Fueling Resurgence In Radicalization And Recruitment, which admitting no proof, nevertheless opined “… that right wing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for right wing radicalization and recruitment.” It is unexpurgated garbage.

Napolitano’s rationale for singling out conservatives was they prefer local to federal government, Christians believe in the “end time,” and single-issue groups oppose abortion, illegal immigration, and embrace Second Amendment rights. She alleged they had “the potential to turn violent,” citing former veterans like Timothy McVeigh. They’re all from the same mold in Napolitano’s brain.

Is this the “remarkably gifted candidate” Ms. Lansing had in mind?

The Department of Homeland Security was created in the aftermath of 9/11 by aggregating the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard, Secret Service, and Federal Emergency Management Agency under a single agency oversight – allegedly to improve cooperation and information-sharing that helped allow 9/11 to happen. Notice that I said “aggregate” not “integrate.” The 45 agencies have been trying to integrate since 9/11 and a dozen years later have yet to accomplish it. Napolitano did little to provide the leadership it needs.

Instead she created a hyper-partisan agency that has done little to improve homeland security. Napolitano became Obama’s lap dog by expunging the word “terrorism” from the official lexicon as part of the Obama agenda to “understand” and “reflect” the grievances of local Muslim communities. Engagement became more important than counterterror policing. Experts who showed the connection of acts of terror and jihad were silenced or purged. An advisory board established by Napolitano looks like a “Who’s Who” of Muslim Brotherhood moles in this country.

While Tamerlan Tsarnaev was abroad getting his Boston bomb instruction – unknown to DHS – Napolitano was busy having her agency buy up hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition to keep them away from those bad old Second Amendment Right Wingers who fought and defeated Obama’s gun control agenda in Congress. Claiming they were only bought for target shooting training (that’s a lot of training), an unamused reporter noted these were lethal hollow points, not the type needed for practice. Facts are such pesky things.

Among her several duties, Napolitano is responsible for securing the borders – a constitutional obligation. She met that duty with the same indifference she met most of her duties. She lied a lot. Claiming that the border was more secure than it had ever been, a member of the Senate pointed out to her that arrests of illegal border crossers (aka undocumented Democrats) increased on her watch. When ranch thefts and several border area murders moved Arizona Governor Brewer to pass enforcement laws for her state, Napolitano and Holder formed a tag team to defeat its enforcement, claiming border security was federal turfdom – which DHS and DOJ continued to ignore.

When Napolitano was the governor of Arizona she vetoed seven bills intended to fight illegal immigration. As DHS Secretary, she fought the border fence. “Show me a 50-foot fence,” she was known to say, “and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.” The CBO reported that millions of undocumented Democrats will enter the country over the next decade if something isn’t done. The immigration bill being haggled over in Congress at the present would give the Secretary of Homeland Security sweeping discretion in how to implement it – including waiving sections of the law. The Gang of Eight wasn’t anxious to put that power in Napolitano’s hands. They are glad to see her gone.

Einstein once said that the main difference between intelligence and stupidity was that intelligence had limits. When Farouk Abdulmutallab’s underwear exploded on a Christmas Day flight in 2009, Napolitano pushed the limits of sheer stupidity in her public statement. “The system worked,” she claimed when reporters asked our principal protector of homeland security how this kid boarded a US-bound plane armed for an act of pubic terror. Abdulmutallab was on a terrorist watch list, being a known protégée of Anwar al-Awlaki. His father had warned US officials in Nigeria of his son’s radicalization. The kid bought a one-way ticket with cash and carried no luggage. The system worked?

The greatest invasion of personal privacy occurred on Napolitano’s watch. The intimate pat-downs, genital touching, creepy examinations of screaming children, women forced to drink their breast milk to prove it harmless, brainless examinations of breast cancer reconstructions, passengers forced to get out of their wheelchairs to show they weren’t faking, treating grey-haired grannies as potential terrorists, naked x-ray screening – all of this was Napolitano’s meat axe mentality in administering airline security. She succeeded more in reducing airline travel.

Lawsuits dogged Napolitano’s incompetence. Her cronyism in placing personal friends in key agency positions was commonplace. One suit alleged discrimination against male employees who were passed over to promote less qualified female staff. Another suit involved Suzanne Barr, a woman who worked for Napolitano as her gubernatorial aide. Napolitano brought her to Washington and Barr managed to get her boss sued for sexual harassment. Affidavits stated that Barr, the chief of staff, cultivated a “frat house” working environment and on one occasion told a male staffer “you are a sexy (expletive)” before asking about the dimensions of his genitals. Lewd messages were sent on agency Blackberries and heavy drinking while on official business took on the nature of a Roman bacchanal. When a complaint was filed with the EEOC, Napolitano initiated investigations against the whistleblower. Barr got away with misconduct for three years before she was forced to resign.

Not surprisingly, Napolitano’s Secret Service agents were involved in well-publicized scandal last August when they “entertained” prostitutes in the rooms in a Cartagena, Columbia hotel prior to Obama’s arrival for the Summit of the Americas. Prostitution is not illegal in Columbia and consorting with them is not specifically prohibited in Secret Service regulations. The incident was discovered before Obama’s arrival and the 12 agents involved were ordered back to Washington and put on unpaid leave. The investigation of a special inspector general was restricted by Napolitano who refused to let him travel to Cartagena for interviews. Moreover, at least one White House employee involved in the romp, the son of a powerful lobbyist, was protected. An investigating agent revealed this in his report and refused to redact it when ordered. Napolitano put him on administrative leave and refused to respond to inquiries about it from Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) – another indication of the agency culture Napolitano permitted.

Ah, and then there are the sequestration cuts which Obama seems to have ordered his cabinet secretaries to make as painful as possible. Obama painted the bleakest of consequences, you’ll recall, including the early release of illegal detainees. Before the cuts even went into effect, however, Napolitano began releasing detainees from immigration jails. She and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement said only a few hundred had been freed. In fact an Associated Press report exposed an internal document stating that about 2,000 had been released for “budget reasons.” Napolitano disputed the AP report, calling it “not really accurate.” Unfortunately for her, a House oversight committee called ICE Director John Morton into a hearing and under oath he revealed that 2,228 people had been released.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) hit the nail on the head when he recently said, “Secretary Napolitano’s tenure at the Department of Homeland Security was defined by a consistent disrespect for the rule of law.”

Janet Napolitano is a partisan hack who is unqualified by experience, intellect, ethics, and judgment to serve as the leader of the university system of the largest state in the country. That the university system would even consider her calls the judgment of the Board of Regents into question. Perhaps the regents and Napolitano deserve each other. I predict their relationship will not last long. California may be the Left Coast, but academics are a weird lot and they don’t suffer fools gladly. Even qualified university leaders have ripped their pants on a faculty. Ask Larry Summers.

I for one am glad to get her off the Homeland Security payroll. She can and has done real damage there. Her record on terrorism has been abysmal – the Boston bombings killed three and injured 264. Abdulmutallab almost succeeded in doing more damage than turning himself into a eunuch. The Times Square car bomber made it all the way to a departing airplane seat before he was captured. Napolitano called that incident a “one-off” which showed how clueless she is in performing security work. All terror attacks are “one-offs.”

The timing of her resignation is odd, however. Cabinet level members of an administration leave after the president’s first term, even if they don’t have an immediate job to move into. The fact that she waited six months into a new term can’t be explained by a sudden opportunity coming up. Napolitano and the California search committee would have been discussing this opening for months. And even if that were not the case, she would not have been a less viable a candidate for the position if unemployed.

No, my guess is that something is about to hit the DHS fan that will be the largest scandal to date. One involving her directly.

Stay tuned.

Subscribe! It's Right. It's Free.