National Press Club

Napolitano highlights Homeland Security role analyzing threats in NPC address

January 30, 2012 | By Terry Hill | terry@terryhillcommunications.com

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks at a National Press Club Luncheon, January 30, 2011.  The luncheon event was moderated by newly inaugurated 2012 NPC President Theresa Werner.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks at a National Press Club Luncheon, January 30, 2011. The luncheon event was moderated by newly inaugurated 2012 NPC President Theresa Werner.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

America is in safe hands, as the U.S. Homeland Security Department has improved efforts to detect threats, respond to natural disasters and prevent terrorist attacks, Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a National Press Club speech.

In her second annual State of America’s Homeland Security address on Jan. 30, Napolitano said the 230,000-employee agency has improved its ability to analyze and distribute threat information. Agency successes included border protection, natural disaster response and cyber security, the third Homeland secretary said.

“Homeland security begins with hometown security, and as part of our commitment to hometown security, we have worked hard to get resources out of Washington and into the hands of state and local officials and first responders,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano described what she said were DHS’s quick and efficient efforts to aid those harmed by forest fires, floods, tornadoes and Hurricane Irene last year. Travelling and cargo handling is getting safer and easier too, she said. On immigration, she called for reforming laws that would deport young people who came to the U.S. as children, got educated and played by the rules.

“Our homeland security and our economic security go hand in hand,” she said. “Security measures should, to the greatest extent possible, be designed to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of people and goods while securing our critical infrastructure.”

DHS has been changing its approach to the relationship between security and trade, she said. This year the agency will aid the flow of almost $2 trillion in commerce while enforcing U.S. trade laws, according to Napolitano. ``Trusted traveler'' and ``trusted shipper'' programs, which rely on mutually-agreed upon information sharing, allow the agency to gather information about travelers or cargo before journeys begin.

``If we have to look for a needle in a haystack, it makes sense to use all of the information we have about the pieces of hay to make the haystack smaller,'' Napolitano said. ``This approach not only makes us safer, but it also creates efficiencies within the system for travelers and for business.''