Today, Janet Napolitano announced her resignation as the Secretary of Homeland Security. The new secretary will face some significant challenges. The Senate must take seriously its responsibility to confirm a nominee with the skills, knowledge, and attributes to do the job right. In particular, America will need a secretary with the talents to take on the following five tasks.
1. Combat transnational terrorism. There have been at least 60 Islamist-related transnational terrorist plots aimed at the U.S. since 9/11. The department cannot afford to neglect what is and should remain its core mission.
2. Get cyber-serious. It would be a huge mistake to put government in charge of the Internet, let alone ask Homeland Security to tell us how to manage our lives online. Yet the department has a significant role to play in mitigating and managing the threat of major disruptions. The new head of the department needs to be a cyber-serious player.
3. Save our Coast Guard. This service is battling above its weight. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, it has more missions than resources. The Coast Guard’s modernization program is woefully inadequate. Fixing the Coast Guard must be a top priority.
4. Enforce immigration law and border security. The department was failing in this mission area before the Senate passed its incomprehensible mess of a bill. Unrealistic expectations and an unbelievable inability to even enforce current law could sink the department without strong leadership that gets beyond doing little more than cheerleading for an amnesty bill.
5. Get politics and pork out of homeland security. From the Transportation Security Administration to fire grants, there is too much wasted money, wasted time, and wasted effort on feel-good government spending and programs that don’t deliver results. There is too much putting what is politically correct before what is good common sense. It is time for strong, nonpartisan, professional leadership.