David Olive

Feb 1

Andrew Malcolm’s blog in today’s LA Times on the recent DHS decision to change the old color-coded threat alert system grabbed my eye. Of course it is a tongue-in-cheek poke at DHS for not explaining the “why this makes a difference to me” in the grand scheme of homeland security issues.

Nevertheless, in every bit of humor there generally exists a kernel of truth, and in this case, Malcolm is right to ask for an explanation of why something that was the subject of a 60-day review took 566 days to resolve. (I’m taking Malcolm’s word for the number of days this issue was studied. Even if he has exaggerated the time, the question is still valid.)

If this administration wants to reclaim the mantle of transparency – and the President’s State of the Union language would lead one to believe that it does – someone at DHS should pay attention.

Frankly, I’d rather hear Secretary Napolitano explain why decisions take as long as they do at DHS than to hear her brag about dumping a color chart alert system or claiming that as she said yesterday in El Paso.

Are you kidding me?

If Napolitano isn’t trying to score “political points” for herself and the Obama Administration, then I have underestimated her skills or those of the so-called “Arizona Mafia” – the highly motivated young turks inside her office who provide the protective political bubble and partisan political guidance to her on how to maintain her political visibility and viability, or so the rumors go.

Janet Napolitano IS a political appointee, after all, and it is to be expected that part of her job as DHS Secretary is the advancement of political goals. That said, if one of the political goals of her boss, President Obama, is greater transparency in decision making, the way DHS handled the change of the threat advisory system leaves a whole lot to be desired… and for me, that is the kernel of truth in Andrew Malcolm’s missive.

This piece was originally posted in Security Debrief.


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