Thanks to the Christian Science Monitor, your Gaggler attended a breakfast this morning with Janet Napolitano. The Homeland Security Secretary was at once frank and disciplined. If she didn't want to talk about something, she simply wouldn't, but she was no mess, no fuss on subjects she wanted to discuss. For example, asked about what it was like to be on the SCOTUS list, she stared down at her plate and replied, "Man, these are really good eggs." But when she was asked about what keeps her up at night in her new position, she said she worries that, while her department can do everything in their power to reduce the risk of a terrorist attack, the risk will never be elimated entirely. "There are just too many ways it can happen and too many avenues for attack. And you’re not going to put the entire United States under a bubble," she said. "One thing I worry about quite frankly is complacency, and this notion that the Department of Homeland Security will take care of it…. We can coordinate, we can lead, we can do a lot of things, but they are shared responsibilities… and I’m concerned that the further we get from 9-11 the more complacent we get about recognizing the real risks that are out there."
On immigration reform, Napolitano indicated there would be movement this year, but she couldn't say precisely when or how the discussions would evolve. The President is eager for reform, she said, but his priorities are the economy and healthcare, so its unclear when his attention will shift to immigrtion. Referring the the New York Times report indicating that illegal immigration had decreased because of economic decline and resulting diminution in jobs, Napolitano said that rather that providing a reprieve for reform, that this was "exactly the time you should be peering forward."
Your Gaggler was curious about what things Napolitano has done differently than her predecessor. In what areas has she overseen a significant change from the Chertoff era? "I think one area, and part of this is my own background coming in, is a real focus bringing state and local governments in at the get go and keeping them informed and really making those partnerships very strong, recognizing that security can not be a top down methodology," Napolitano said. She wants to find mechanisms through which intel and analysis collected by the multitude of agencies operating in DC can be operationalized around the country. "What can make an awful lot of sense in Washington DC may not make a lot of sense when you are a thousand or two thousand miles away so we have been bringing people in solely to focus on that," she said.