Reliable Security Information

Overhauling Homeland Security

President Barack Obama has been quick to distinguish his wartime policy from that of his predecessor. During his first month in office the new U.S. president ordered troop commitments refocused to Afghanistan; downplayed "war on terror" rhetoric (AP); and sought to reassure Muslims overseas that America's struggle is not against Islam or its adherents. But on the issue of domestic security, Obama's vision has emerged more slowly. Aside from vague vows to "defeat terrorism worldwide," "prevent nuclear terrorism," and "strengthen American biosecurity"--claims made on the campaign trail--the first days of the Obama administration have offered few specifics on a new homeland security strategy.

That may be changing. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers on February 25 she has ordered a review of programs developed during the Bush administration to examine efficiency, transparency, communication, and security initiatives. "We need to hold people accountable, uphold professionalism across DHS, and act wisely with taxpayer money," Napolitano said, noting she has appointed a chief privacy officer to ensure new initiatives do not infringe on Americans' civil liberties. Without offering specifics, Napolitano  has said she will seek to overhaul President Bush's immigration policies (ChiTrib), which focused on raids and criminal prosecutions. She has also criticized border protection measures under Bush, saying she favors tougher laws against employers who hire illegal immigrants. "You cannot build a fence from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas, and call that an immigration policy," she told NPR last month.

The White House, too, is looking to revamp its homeland security policies. President Obama is exploring an overhaul (WashPost) of the White House's National Security Council (NSC), including incorporating some or all of the functions of the Homeland Security...

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