Napolitano Makes Global Warming a Homeland Security Priority

Posted on Wed 12/22/2010 by

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Rory CooperBy Rory CooperJanet Napolitano

There she goes again. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano just can’t speak in public without destroying any remaining confidence Americans have left in her agency. CNS News reports that at a conference devoted to “environmental justice”, Secretary Napolitano announced that the Department of Homeland Security would be creating the “Climate Change and Adaptation Task Force” to mitigate the affects of global warming on security and response operations. No…really.

According to CNS, Napolitano said the task force would examine: 1) “How will FEMA work with state and local partners to plan for increased flooding or wildfire or hurricane activity that is more serious than we’ve seen before?” 2) “What assistance can the Coast Guard bring to bear to assist remote villages in, for example, Alaska which already have been negatively affected by changes up in the Arctic?” 3) “How can we focus on how climate change is going to affect our rural citizenry including those who live along our boarders both northern and southern?”, and 4) how will the Coast Guard or border services react to rising water levels.

We were first warned of these coming priorities in the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, released in February, which was intended to be a strategic outline for the department but instead discussed global warming, while barely mentioning the U.S. Coast Guard. Of course, these new priorities don’t mean better resources for the Coast Guard or anyone at the department. The distracting initiative is merely a stunt aimed at President Obama’s leftist base.

If it worries you that the department created in 2002 has not only lost considerable focus on securing our nation, but become an outpost for misguided political musings, you are not alone. Secretary Napolitano has time and time again proven that she fails to understand the immediate threats facing Americans and will waste breath and resources on liberal dogma rather than warning our enemies of our continued vigilance, and demonstrating it to them.

In April 2009, Napolitano’s department issued a report that warned of “right wing extremism” praying on returning veterans joining and planning harm against the nation they just finished serving. At the time, American Legion National Commander David Rehbein didn’t demand an apology, but instead correctly assessed the problem: “Trying to monitor a group of several million veterans is frankly going to cost them a lot of time and resources, they don’t have, that they could better spend monitoring already identified groups.” Exactly.

The current leadership at DHS spends so much time placating politically-correct leftists, they are guaranteed to not be using every available minute and resource afforded to them to prevent terrorism, respond to disasters and protect us from obvious Islamist plots.

But let’s pretend that global warming does indeed pose an imminent national security threat, do the goals of this “task force” even make sense? No.

First, it’s built on the faulty premise that we are facing increased hurricane activity, flooding and wildfires due to global warming. Casual or not, the numbers simply don’t add up. In fact, we’ve had two consecutive hurricane seasons that were historically quiet. But again, pretending the premise is correct, wouldn’t the department be prepared for a greater-than-average number of response activities simply based on resource potential rather than adding some political cause to it all?

This alone proves that the intent of the “task force” is to make a silly political statement; otherwise Secretary Napolitano currently has her department vastly unprepared for no valid reason.

Secondly, the Coast Guard can already offer the specific assistance to Americans with which it is mandated. If our neighbors in the Arctic region are experiencing any of the issues that liberals attach to global warming — i.e. land loss, water-levels rising, extreme temperatures — what exactly would be the Coast Guard’s new mission? They perform rescue operations, but surely Napolitano doesn’t expect water levels to rise so fast that Alaskans can’t slowly back away?

An already stretched-too-thin Coast Guard should, again, always be planning for a greater-than-average number of events, but not adding to which events they respond to based on political whim. As for their infrastructure, Coast Guard headquarters are hopefully prepared for most coastal weather activity regardless of cause, and their vessels hopefully remain floating on water, despite its rise.

President Obama has also reallocated considerable resources at NASA, from its original mission of human exploration to global warming research. And other agencies like the Departments of Energy, Commerce and the EPA are also diverting considerable taxpayer dollars to fight global warming and increase economic burdens on our country while ignoring other urgent and pressing priorities. But the misplaced focus of DHS is particularly worrisome given its critical mandate.

Secretary Napolitano dismissed the Times Square bomber as a “one-off”, which of course turned out to be false as we learned of his connection to Islamist terror networks. Napolitano also said the “system worked” after the Christmas Day attack, when we later learned the system was lucky and again, we had an attacker tied to a large Islamist network.

While belittling the Islamist threat against America, Napolitano increased intrusive security measures across the nation and then acted with shock when the public noticed the illogical disconnection. Simply put, Napolitano has said nothing to make Americans feel safer, and far too often, does the exact opposite.

DHS is currently spending considerable time assigning politically convenient causes to potential events rather than operating on known threats. It’s time for Secretary Napolitano to start demonstrating she has some basic understanding of the mission of her department, and that she is carrying out in a competent way, before Americans aren’t the only ones who recognize her misplaced priorities.

Rory Cooper contributes posts at The Foundry and he is the Director of Strategic Communications at The Heritage Foundation

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