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Napolitano Piling Up the Mistakes

Napolitano Piling Up the Mistakes

By Jack Kelly - April 28, 2009

"Can somebody please tell us how U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano got her job?" asked Canada's National Post in an editorial April 22. "She appears to be about as knowledgeable about border issues as a late night radio call-in yahoo."

The National Post's question was triggered by an interview Ms. Napolitano gave to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) April 20, in which she claimed some of the 9/11 hijackers entered the U.S. through Canada. (All 19 came directly to the United States.) A few weeks earlier, in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Ms. Napolitano said: "One of the things that we need to be sensitive to is the very real feelings among southern border states and in Mexico that if things are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border."

There are a few differences between Canada and Mexico which Ms. Napolitano overlooked:

"The Mexican border is so porous the U.S. is building a barrier from Texas to the Pacific to try and stem the flood of illegal immigrants," noted National Post reporter Kelly McParland. "It's so dangerous President Barack Obama is sending hundreds more federal agents, hoping they can slow the violence spilling over into the U.S. In Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, 1,800 people were killed in 2008. There were 366 abductions in Phoenix, largely linked to Mexican human smugglers and narcotics gangs. Recent U.S. intelligence assessments warn Mexico risks becoming a violence-ridden failed state similar to Pakistan."

Canadians are not flooding illegally into Montana or Michigan. Drug cartels aren't shooting it out in the streets of Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Though some highly potent marijuana makes its way from British Columbia to Washington state, drug smuggling across our northern border is miniscule compared to our southern border. As the National Post's editors noted: "In Canada, the main problem is congestion resulting from cross-border trade."

"Ms. Napolitano's words...have triggered a rare unanimity of opposition in Canada," noted Lawrence Martin of Toronto's Globe and Mail.

Offending our neighbor and close ally is the worst of Ms. Napolitano's blunders in her brief tenure, but by no means the first.

In an appearance on CNN on April 19, Ms. Napolitano declared that entering the United States illegally is not a crime. Section 8, Title 1325 of the U.S. Code begs to differ: "Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willfull concealment of a material fact shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

Shouldn't the head of the Department of Homeland Security know that illegal immigration is illegal?

Shortly after assuming office, Ms. Napolitano banned the use of the word "terror" to describe events like 9/11, or "terrorist" to describe those who perpetrated them. Mass casualty attacks would henceforth be known as "man-caused disasters," she decreed.

But then DHS used the word "terrorist" in a fact-free report approved by Ms. Napolitano to describe veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who might join right wing groups. The American Legion demanded an apology from Ms. Napolitano, and on April 24 received it: "I offered (American Legion national commander David Rehbein) my sincere apologies for any offense to our veterans caused by this report," she said.

Ms. Napolitano was governor of Arizona when President Obama chose her to head DHS. She had no discernable qualifications for the job, and has demonstrated repeatedly she lacks the judgment for such an important and sensitive post.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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