Now, a renewed focus on homeland security

By Laurie Bennett

April 16, 2013 at 10:25am

Four days ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared before a House subcommittee to defend her 2014 budget request.

The 22 agencies that operated separately before the 2001 terrorist attacks have been integrated under one umbrella, she said. The merger had built “a strengthened homeland security enterprise and a more secure America better equipped to confront the range of threats we face.”

Napolitano talked about anti-terrorism efforts as sort of a daily checklist. Each day, the department screens 2 million passengers at domestic airports, intercepts agricultural threats, follows up on thousands of alerts, trains federal and local officers.

The top priority, she told the Appropriations subcommittee, was preventing terrorism.

Much of the discussion on Capitol Hill, however, focused on the more partisan topics of debt and immigration.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, had issued a statement the day before Napolitano’s testimony, saying President Obama’s budget “reflects a choice to weaken our national and homeland defenses by refusing to address our crippling debt, limiting our flexibility in a time of crisis.”

How politicized will the coming debate be, as the nation emerges from the shock of Boston and looks to its leaders for protection?

We’ll know soon. McCaul’s panel has a review of the homeland security budget scheduled for Friday.

We’re not going to enter the largely semantic discussion of whether the marathon bombings were or were not terrorism. The back-and-forth has already begun to sound like the rhetoric surrounding Benghazi.

And we won’t waste your time on the addled conspiracy theories that scuttle like cockroaches in the ash of national tragedy.

Domestic peace was snatched away yesterday. Now it’s up to a responsible government, with the support of its citizens, to bring it back.

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