Thursday, November 20, 2008

Next Secretary of DHS, part 2

No sooner do I post a blog on Sen Chuck Hagel possibly becoming the next Secretary of Homeland Security then I read the following this morning;

“President-elect Barack Obama's top choice to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, according to several media reports, citing unnamed Democratic officials.

Gov. Napolitano, whose handling of immigration issues brought her praise from fellow governors, was an early supporter and campaigner for Obama's presidential campaign and was reported to be on a short list of people to fill cabinet posts in the new administration.

Napolitano, 50, was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2006 as governor of Arizona, the home state of Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in the race against Obama.”

Governor Napolitano previously had been the attorney general for the state of Arizona. She won’t be the first governor to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security, former Secretary Ridge was governor of Pennsylvania. If she is appointed, she would bring an interesting combination of experience as attorney general and governor of a border state. Current Secretary Chertoff concerns over the last few years have centered around immigration. I don’t know if her experience in Arizona will continue this trend or cause her to refocus DHS efforts elsewhere. I am glad to see someone from outside the Eastern Seaboard to hold this position. Perhaps now DHS efforts will have more relevance to those states without borders or coastlines.

On a related note, The U.S. Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM-USA) is calling for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be restored to its former status as an independent agency reporting directly to the President. IAEM-USA also urges that the Director be designated as a member of the President's Cabinet. When DHS was created, FEMA was moved under the new department. Many feel the debacle of response during Hurricane Katrina was a result of FEMA being too far removed from the President. I’ve never understood why an agency that exists to respond to disasters reports to an organization responsible for preventing terrorist attacks. I don’t know when the next terrorist attack will occur but I can tell you to start preparing for hurricanes starting around April. FEMA needs to be able to do its job without trying to compete with homeland security interests.

No comments: