Tales from the Trail

Napolitano says no to running for Senate seat in Arizona

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ended the political speculation on whether she will leave President Barack Obama’s Cabinet to run for the U.S. Senate in the 2012 elections.

USA/Napolitano, a former governor from Arizona, told Democratic Party leaders earlier this week that she would not seek the open Senate seat.

“She cares deeply about Arizona, but the secretary intends to continue doing the job that the president asked her to do — protecting the American people from terrorism and other threats to our country,” her spokesman Sean Smith said in a statement on Friday.

Speculation about her possible candidacy emerged after the recent announcement by Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl, a three-term conservative, that he would not seek re-election.

It was not the first time during the two years that Napolitano has headed the Department of Homeland Security that rumors  swirled about her future. Napolitano’s name had cropped up as a possible candidate for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court early in Obama’s  presidency.

Valentine’s Day with the GOP

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by sending your special someone a pink e-card, covered in hearts, with a message from the president: “Hope you like this Valentine’s card, your grandchildren are paying for it.”

In the GOP version of My Funny Valentine and a way to raise some sweet cash, the Republican National Committee is poking some fun at the White House and its Democratic cohorts with GOPvalentine.com, and more than 30,000 of the snarky messages had been sent as of Friday morning.

The site boasts 18 card options, including “This card entitles you to one free hug  full-body pat-down” with a photo of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and “Don’t censure this Valentine” with a photo of Rep. Charles Rangel, who was censured by the House of Representatives for ethics violations.

McCain, Napolitano shoot it out, rhetorically speaking, over US-Mexico border

OIL-RIG/LEAK

USA-SECURITY/When Arizonans John McCain and Janet Napolitano started arguing over border security in the Senate on Wednesday, it sounded briefly like the pair could be heading for a modern day shootout at the O.K. Corral.

But it ended in a Mexican stand-off instead, with each cow poke flanked by an imaginary posse of sympathetic sheriffs.

The trouble started when McCain, a Republican senator, got his chance to ask questions at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Washington Extra – cautionary tale

President Barack Obama signed a $600 million bill to strengthen border security, and just to make sure the message got through, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano took the podium at today’s White House media briefing. Immigration has always been a tough political issue, and in an election year no great strides are expected on major reform before the November vote. “It cannot only be done by Democrats. The Republicans need to come to the table,” Napolitano said.

WALMART/The American consumer is still a cautionary tale. But consumer sentiment appears to have stabilized in August after dropping sharply in July. “Consumers are still cautious, but it is not double-dip material,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. In a separate report, U.S. retail sales rose in July but showed hints of lingering economic softness.

And finally, I tried to find something positive to say about Friday the 13th and realized there’s no need, because it’s still Friday!

Singing frog chides Arizona immigration law opponents

Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer’s campaign is using a singing frog to chide high-ranking Democratic cabinet officials for criticizing the desert state’s controversial new immigration law without actually reading it.

The campaign to elect Brewer – who stepped up when former Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano became President Barack Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary – uses a Muppet-like hand puppet to deliver a crooned reading lesson.

“Reading is really super swell … Reading helps you know what you’re talking about,” the Kermit-like frog raspingly intones, cut in with clips of senior administration officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and Napolitano admitting that they hadn’t read the law they have spoken out about.
 

U.S. Supreme Court advice for Obama

Someone experienced in making hard decisions with the imagination to understand how rulings affect the lives of Americans. OBAMA/

Those words of advice came from Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer as President Barack Obama searches for a replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Testifying before Congress on the Supreme Court’s budget request, they gave their views about the type of person Obama should select, without getting into judicial philosophy. The U.S. Senate must confirm the nominee.

DHS chief tries to allay fears about airport full-body scanners

After the failed attempt to blow up up a U.S. commercial jet with a bomb hidden in a passenger’s underwear on Christmas Day, U.S. authorities have been racing to deploy full-body scanners in airports and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been working in overdrive to allay fliers’ concerns about their privacy.

The Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration plan to have some 450 full-body imaging scanners — known as Advanced Imaging Technology machines  — deployed this year and Napolitano has been ramping up her public appearances over the last couple of days offering a defense for the need to beef up aviation security with the devices.

“I went through one in California, in San Francisco and I saw the image and I’m very comfortable with it,” she said in response to a caller to National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show on Tuesday. “We always offer passengers the option to go the standard way with the greater likelihood of an actual pat down.”

US senator says no way to $200 million for 9/11 trial security

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins rarely raises her voice to emphasize a point but on Wednesday she spoke forcefully against spending some $200 million on security for the trials of the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including the self-professed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

“It’s the safe assumption that Congress is not going to appropriate $200 million for the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City,” Collins told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during a hearing on the department’s fiscal 2011 budget.

USA/“It is not going to happen,” she said, adding that some of the money would be better spent on other things, such as resources for the U.S. Coast Guard.

The complicated question of Haiti’s orphans

HAITIThe devastation caused by Haiti’s earthquake has extended to some of its youngest and most powerless victims: orphans awaiting clearance to join adoptive families in the United States.

The U.S. government has already said it will allow orphaned children from Haiti to come to the United States temporarily for needed medical treatment, and on Wednesday expanded its effort.

Now three departments — State, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services — say they’ll join together to deal with what is a complicated question, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

from Summit Notebook:

Napolitano defends bringing Guantanamo detainees to U.S.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the Obama administration's plans to bring terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States -- countering critics who questioned whether it would create security risks.

"There's no question in my mind that those detainees who would be moved to the United States would be held in such a fashion that they would not be any threat to public safety, and I say that as a former prosecutor," Napolitano said in an interview during the Reuters Washington Summit. She served as a U.S. attorney in Arizona during the Clinton administration.

President Barack Obama has pledged to close the controversial prison by Jan. 22, 2010, including bringing some of the terrorism suspects to U.S. soil for trial in military commissions or U.S. criminal courts. There have been questions and doubts about whether his goal can be achieved because of political, legal and logistical complications.