Napolitano to Homeland Security

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, widely touted as an Attorney General candidate, has instead been tabbed to be Barack Obama’s Homeland Security secretary.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has been chosen to be secretary of the vast and troubled Department of Homeland Security. Photo: AP

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has been chosen to be secretary of the vast and troubled Department of Homeland Security. Photo: AP

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) has been chosen to serve as secretary of the vast and troubled Department of Homeland Security for President-elect Obama, Democratic officials said. Napolitano is a border governor who will now be responsible for immigration policy and border security, which are part of Homeland Security’s myriad functions.

Napolitano brings law-and-order experience from her stint as the Grand Canyon State’s first female attorney general. One of the nation’s most prominent female elected officials, she made frequent appearances on behalf of Barack Obama during the campaign. She was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2006.

[…]

In 2005, TIME magazine named her one of America’s five best governors, calling her “A Mountaineer on the Political Rise.” TIME reported: “The one issue Republicans think they can use against the popular Napolitano is illegal immigration, because the huge number of border crossings have left many Arizonans feeling overwhelmed and powerless. Her critics claim she came to the problem late, but she seems to have navigated it deftly. … Napolitano opposed … several bills that targeted illegal immigrants. Instead, she looked to the systems and people that make illegal immigration possible: she ordered state contractors to ensure that their employees are legal [and] set up an undercover unit to catch forgers of identity documents … In mid-August she declared a state of emergency in Arizona to direct more funds to protecting border areas from illegal crossings.”

An interesting and likely uncontroversial choice, continuing the “No Drama Obama” pattern.

What’s interesting here is the emphasis on illegal immigration rather than counterterrorism.  The latter, you may recall, was the impetus for creating the new Department.  Whether this signals a de-emphasis of that role or merely that they needed to put Napolitano somewhere and the options were limited, we’ll see.

FILED UNDER: National Security, Terrorism, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    Since DHS is an amalgamation of many once separate components, control of our borders is one of its top priorities through its department of Customs and Border Patrol, and the Immigration and Citizen Customs Enforcement. That she’s from Arizona doesn’t hurt.

  2. Patrick says:

    Wonder what kind of relationship she has with McCain?

  3. odograph says:

    Unflattering photo …

    Should the Department of Homeland Security be wound down? I always thought the FBI, the G-Men, were supposed to handle it. If they couldn’t they should have been built up.

    And IMO, mixing terror fighting with hurricane response was a “synergy” found in a whiskey bottle.

  4. Bithead says:

    Another proponant of Shamnisty.
    Don’t expect our security to improve, particularly as regards the ‘soft invasion’ from our south.

    Which should give you an indication of where she and McCain have been together.

  5. Maggie Mama says:

    A Janet by any other name is still a Janet.

    Why do I have the terrifying vision of AG Reno?

  6. sam says:

    A Janet by any other name is still a Janet.

    Why do I have the terrifying vision of AG Reno?

    Because you’re deranged?