Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 23, 2009

POP: Policy Oriented Potpurri

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 23, 2009

In answering questions yesterday after a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, Secretary Napolitano signaled a shift on Real ID.  Here is what she said, “And so we’ve been, over the last weeks, meeting with governors of both parties to look at a way to repeal REAL ID and substitute something else that pivots off of the driver’s license but accomplishes some of the same goals. And we hope to be able to announce something on that fairly soon.  Stateline.org reports, “Congress and the Obama administration are considering ceding key ground in a long-running battle between the federal government and the states over Real ID, the 4-year-old federal program that requires all states to start issuing more secure driver’s licenses by the end of the year. Proposed legislation being circulated on Capitol Hill would give states more time, flexibility and money to meet federal Real ID requirements.”

Today’s hearing on FEMA indpendence has been postponed.  House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staff tells CQ that a scheduling conflict has emerged.  Craig Fugate’s strong statement yesterday (see prior posts) on FEMA remaining part of DHS is widely suspected to have played a role.

A wildfire is quickly spreading near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Brush fires have complicated travel across Florida’s Alligator Alley.   The California drought increases the likelihood of a bad wildfire season.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating two cases of swine flu detected in children in the San Diego, California, area last week…  The children were infected with a virus known as swine influenza A H1N1, which has a unique combination of genes not previously seen in flu viruses in either humans or swine – although it shares similarities with a virus that has been circulating in pigs since 1999,” according to CNN. UPDATE (late Thursday): The CDC now confirms seven with swine flu, five in California and two in Texas. (More from CNN)

Yesterday during his nomination hearing John Morton was pressed for ICE leadership in coordinating the federal response to violence on the Southwest Border.  According to Government Executive, ‘Morton said he was aware of the problems and a top priority would be to solve the jurisdictional issues among the agencies. ‘As a federal prosecutor I’m very familiar with the issue of turf wars. I don’t think they have a place in the federal government as a general matter, and I particularly don’t think they have a place on the southwest border,’ he said.”

Taliban fighters spilling out of the Swat Valley have swept across Buner, a district 60 miles from Islamabad, as Hillary Clinton warned the situation in Pakistan now poses a “mortal threat” to the security of the world,” the Guardian reports. “The US secretary of state told Congress yesterday that Pakistan faced an “existential” threat from Islamist militants. “I think the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists,” she said. Any further deterioration in the situation “poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world”, she said.” BREAKING NEWS at 0800 (eastern): Reuters is reporting that a few (perhaps a platoon) of Pakistani paramilitary troops are being reinserted into the Taliban-taken area.

According to Computerworld, “Endorsing a viewpoint that’s been gaining currency in the security industry, President Obama’s acting senior director for cyberspace Wednesday called for a more direct White House role in coordinating national cybersecurity efforts Melissa Hathaway, who just completed a 60-day review of the government’s cybsersecurity preparedness at the president’s behest, said that while cybersecurity needs to be a shared private and public sector effort, the task of leading it ‘is the fundamental responsibility of our government.'”

Last night several Republican Congressmen expressed their anger at Secretary Napolitano and called for her resignation.  But the conservatives were calm compared to some Canadians.   The Calgary Herald asks of Napolitano, “Where do they get these people?”  The Globe and Mail asks, “What is Bush throwback Janet Napolitano doing in Obama’s cabinet?” Dispensing with the questions, the Gazette (Montreal) headlines its editorial, “US Security Boss Guilty of Borderline Stupidity.”  The northern media is responding to the Secretary’s comment on Monday, “to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it’s been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there.”  Some in Canada have issues with the accuracy of that statement.

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3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 23, 2009 @ 9:55 am

Quick take on POP post!
First, has either the Bush or Obama Administration ever sent Congress a detailed report on VALID ID with expert analysis of its problems and proposed legislative solutions? Don’t they both take an oath to faithfully uphold and execute the laws? More lawlessness?
Second, cyber security is clearly a stepchild everywhere now assigned in Executive Branch. Specific reason, no real funding stream and assets largely in the private sector. So no change even if White House Czar who will be doomed to failure while security continues to be compromised daily and expensively for all levels of government and all sectors of economy.

Finally, long ago commented on Secretary N. that she was highly political and ambivalent about border issues while Governor in Arizona while continuously complaining it was always someone elses problem. Still the same in current job. And the Canadian Border issue has complicated system analysis components never really addressed by US. We need an Assistant Secretary for Candian Affairs at STATE and use as lead issue for entirety of Executive Branch on Canadian issues. Time to grow up. The border was wide open no controls prior to WWI when Canada joined the other Britishd Dominions in helping fight that war. When a Canadian draft was imposed the Canadians sealed the border to catch Canadian draft dodgers.

Hope these comments are of interest!

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 23, 2009 @ 10:04 am

I am sure that the hearing on FEMA independence was postponed not because of Mr. Fugate’s position on that issue but because given vote on Senate Committee the House may soon have a confirmed FEMA Administrator to give his position–official or personal—on the record. After all still under 100 days for the Administration so if Senate confirms Fugate in the FEMA job by next week will have been filled within the first 100 days. Wow! Amazing that no catastrophic events occurred domestically requiring FEMA Adminstrator to be doing his thing. Good job Obama Administration. Maybe no catastrophic events in first term if job had been left vacant. Simple faulty logic.

Comment by Felisha Enget

August 6, 2010 @ 1:28 am

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