1. Protecting the Homeland….in New Zealand

Is Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano completely on the sidelines? And has she not gotten the memo about limiting government travel? How else to explain that on May 2 she began a trip to New Zealand and Australia? May 2 was the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, when we were supposedly on high alert for possible al Qaeda attacks; and it was also when the prostitution scandal involving the Secret Service – which is part of Napolitano’s department – was raging. A Department of Homeland Security press release described the trip this way:

In Wellington [New Zealand], Secretary Napolitano will meet with Prime Minister John Key, and participate in bilateral meetings with New Zealand counterparts to discuss a variety of issues including information sharing, combating transnational crime and human trafficking.

In Australia, Secretary Napolitano will lead the Presidential delegation to the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of the Coral Sea, the World War II battle that marked the start of the U.S.-Australia security partnership. While in Canberra and Brisbane, Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks on security, privacy, and strong international partnerships at the Australian National University, and meet with Australian counterparts to discuss the ongoing partnerships to combat transnational crime, counter violent extremism, enhance information sharing, and work to ensure a more safe, secure, and resilient global supply chain.

Sure, some of this sounds vaguely relevant to her job, though it’s difficult to put the “Commemoration of the Battle of the Coral Sea” in that category. And while human trafficking is an important issue, as with a recent trip Napolitano took to Miami Beach to participate in a panel on the dangers of online dating, it’s probably not what comes to mind when most Americans think of the mission of the person running the country’s third-largest cabinet agency – the one that is supposed to be focused on protecting us from terrorism.

What did this New Zealand-Australia sojourn cost us? (Probably a lot, if she had to take a government plane equipped with secure communications. Did she?) How much has her travel cost us in the last year? What about overall travel and conferences for her and her agency this year? And can’t somebody demand a log of her schedule and tell us how many days in the last year she’s been out of town and what those trips tell us about how much she’s engaged in the job we hired her for?