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Kelley B. Vlahos

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Time to Abolish the DHS?

Homeland
photo: Steve Rhodes

To the glee of her critics, Janet Napolitano, the longest-serving secretary at the Department of Homeland Security in its decade-long existence, has announced her resignation. No longer will Republicans have old Janet to kick around. As for the civil libertarians and frustrated national security state watchers, she was a reliable foot solider and bureaucrat and her departure is welcome for as much as it will make a difference, which is likely not much.

That’s because speculation of her replacement has centered around such milquetoast figures as retired Coast Guard Chief Thad Allen and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, both of whom would no doubt would toe the line as faithfully as Napolitano and her ineffectual predecessors, Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge. 

Then there is the incredibly jarring prospect of New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly becoming the new head of DHS. While the force’s infamous stop-and-frisk and Muslim community surveillance programs are currently tied up in contentious civil rights litigation, he has also overseen an expansion of the NYPD which is now acting like an auxiliary of both the CIA and the military here and abroad. If there were a poster child for post-9/11 overreach, it would be the NYPD, and its flinty-eyed top cop the perfect embodiment of imperious state authority.
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