Republican Rep. Peter King of New York credits the Democratic secretary with strengthening cybersecurity efforts, improving intelligence sharing among government agencies and helping make FEMA effective again
By Erin Kelly
Republic Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON – After more than 31/2 years running the agency charged with protecting Americans from terrorists, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano thinks about heading home to Arizona.
“It’s certainly in my mind,” the 54-year-old former Arizona governor said during a 30-minute interview in her “bat cave,” decorated with a Mexican saddle, opera posters and a baseball signed by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. “I don’t know if or when. … But I left a lot of my stuff in Arizona. And I’m still a registered voter there.”
It’s not clear whether her boxes will come out of storage anytime soon. If President Barack Obama wins a second term, most Washington observers believe he will ask Napolitano to stay on as head of the government’s third-largest department. For now, Napolitano won’t say what her answer would be.
But whether she is on the job a few more months or four more years, members of Congress who oversee her department say Napolitano has already left her mark on the young agency. They credit her with increasing deportations of illegal immigrants, restoring the image of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and helping create a new airport screening system that has prevented thousands of potentially dangerous people from boarding U.S.-bound planes at foreign airports.