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Napolitano's failing Homeland report card

By JAMES ZUMWALT, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   July 30, 2013 at 12:04 AM   |   Comments

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HERNDON, Va., July 30 (UPI) -- After heading the Department of Homeland Security for four years, Janet Napolitano announced she will depart in September. Wishing her well, U.S. President Barack Obama claimed the "American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet's leadership in protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks."

Apparently, neither Obama nor Napolitano have read the November 2012 U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management report titled, "A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence and Terror at the Southwest Border." Building upon the 2006 report, "A Line in the Sand: Countering the Threat at the Southwest Border," the new report's title has grown along with the threat.

Nor, apparently, have they read security consultant Douglas Farah's July 9 testimony before the same congressional subcommittee, noting the "Threat to the Homeland: Iran's Extending Influence in the Western Hemisphere."

With her very first Capitol Hill appearance as head of Homeland Security in early 2009, Napolitano sought to downplay both the nature and primary source of the United States' greatest threat.

The nature -- terrorist attacks -- was toned down as she insisted events like 9/11 be dubbed "man-made disasters." (One only wonders how then to distinguish between 9/11 and BP's 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.)

Desiring a kinder, gentler spin on the primary source of such "man-made disasters," Napolitano refused, in later Homeland Security guidelines, to link the threat in any way to its root cause -- Islamic ideology.

One oblivious to 9/11 and its religiously motivated source is clueless as to what Americans should fear and why.

As she leaves office, Napolitano and Obama still refuse, in either the Homeland Security or national security guidelines, to call the source of this increasing threat by its rightful name.

In February 2010, Napolitano delivered the first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review to Congress. Ironically, that document -- despite the "man-made disaster" label she sought -- did identify terrorism as the greatest threat to safety in the United States. It used the generic term "terrorist" 66 times and the words "extremist" or "violent extremism" 14 times.

But terrorist threats emanate from different sources. While the QHSR mentioned "al-Qaida" five times, it offered nothing more specific beyond that, leaving the uninformed reader asking what motivates al-Qaida -- and, apparently, al-Qaida alone -- to pose such a threat?

Purposely avoided were more definitive words like "Islamic" extremists or "Islamists," recognizing the threat goes far beyond al-Qaida to a religious ideology shared by many Muslim groups. It was a glaring omission of such terrorists' real motivation.

Yet in April 2009, a threat notification from the Department of Homeland Security delivered to law enforcement officers across the country was very specific as to its source. It forewarned of possible future violent acts of domestic "right-wing extremism" from "disgruntled military veterans," motivated by a poor economy and volatile political climate.

Willing to attach an extremist stigma to our returning, courageous warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan -- Obama even recently labeled Tea Party members "domestic terrorists" -- the Homeland Security Department was unwilling to use such specificity about religiously motivated "Islamic" extremists for reasons of political correctness.

In the four ensuing years, the vast majority of domestic acts of terrorism have been by Muslims. Being PC does little to educate Americans about the beast in religious clothing lurking in the shadows.

Under Napolitano's leadership, the threat from the source she refuses to name has drastically increased as Islamic terrorist organizations such as Iranian-influenced Hezbollah have gained access south of our border -- even establishing a missile base in Venezuela.

Over the years, it has linked up with various drug cartels to gain access into the United States. There should be no doubt it, and its cohort groups, are preparing for terrorist activity north of our border, as evidenced by a 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States in Washington.

A brief statement by U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the aforementioned subcommittee, wasted few words praising Napolitano's service -- eight to be exact -- only saying, "I respect and thank her for her service."

He left no doubt the Department of Homeland Security needs a new focus.

"Ten years after the creation of the department," he noted, "it is critical that its mission isn't undermined by politics or political correctness. The border is not secure and the threat of terrorism is not diminishing. The vision and actions of the department must reflect that reality."

Despite the subcommittee's findings, the Homeland Security Department fails to trumpet a warning to law enforcement officers about Islamic terrorists to our south as it did about U.S. veterans becoming right-wing extremists.

Despite the fact Hezbollah is recognized as a terrorist organization, the United States inexplicably fails to criticize the group in the appropriate forum. Even as the current rotating president of the U.N. Security Council -- a position predecessors used to denounce aggression -- speaking about the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, Hezbollah's home base, the United States fails to condemn it for fighting in Syria to bolster Bashar Assad.

As one observer suggests, it is like talking about 9/11 without mentioning al-Qaida.

Last year, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified in a U.S. Senate hearing that Iran's alliances could pose "an immediate threat by giving Iran -- directly through ... proxies like Hezbollah -- a platform in the region to carry out attacks against the United States, our interests, and allies."

Napolitano is to become president of the University of California system where she seeks "to play a role in educating our nation's next generation of leaders." If her role as an educator within the Department of Homeland Security is any indication, she will fail to educate the next generation of leaders just as she has failed to educate the American public about the Islamist terrorist threat.

While Obama's words of praise serve Napolitano well, reading the congressional report suggests she hasn't served the American people similarly.

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(A retired U.S. Marine, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt served in the Vietnam War, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War. He has written "Bare Feet, Iron Will -- Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran -- The Clock is Ticking.")

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(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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