Acting Gov. and outgoing Senate President Richard Codey (D-Roseland) penned a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today asking her to resign based on her response to the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner.
“Based on the handling of this entire affair, I think it’s time for you to consider stepping down and making room for an individual with more law enforcement and counterterrorism experience to take the reins at the Office of Homeland Security,” wrote Codey in the letter, which was copied to President Obama.
Codey said that the “entire affair,” including the intelligence bungling about warnings about the alleged terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, was “handled poorly” and faulted Napolitano for her subsequent statements.
“After the Christmas Day near-miss, your public statements seemed more focused on public relations than closing the gaps in our nation’s security safety net that allowed a terrorist to board an international flight for the United States,” he wrote.
Codey served as acting governor from 2004 to January, 2006 – during that time, Napolitano, a fellow Democrat, was governor of Arizona. Codey is New Jersey’s acting governor this week because Gov. Jon Corzine is out of state.
Below is the full text of the letter:
Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Napolitano:
I’m writing to you today to express deep concerns with the direction of the nation’s homeland security response, especially in regards to the handling of terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallad in the months prior to – and days since – his Christmas Day attack on a Northwest Airlines Flight 253 landing in Detroit.
Based on the handling of this entire affair, I think it’s time for you to consider stepping down and making room for an individual with more law enforcement and counterterrorism experience to take the reins at the Office of Homeland Security.
The entire episode was handled poorly, from start to finish. Indications that Mr. Abdulmutallad may pose a danger to the nation’s security were not acted upon, despite the existence of intelligence suggesting that he may be dangerous, and working alongside Al-Quaeda operatives in Yemen. His name was put into a database with other suspected terrorists, but he was still allowed to fly freely and enter and exit the U.S. on a nonrevoked, multiple-entry U.S. visa.
After the Christmas Day near-miss, your public statements seemed more focused on public relations than closing the gaps in our nation’s security safety net that allowed a terrorist to board an international flight for the United States. You said on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday, “I think the important thing to recognize here is that once this incident occurred, everything happened that should have. We trained for this. We planned for this.” On CNN’s “State of the Union” program, you said, “One thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked.”
Public relations spin to the contrary, I believe there are 300 airline passengers who were onboard Flight 253 and would disagree with your assessment on how well the system “worked.” It was by sheer luck and mechanical malfunction of the bomber’s equipment that the United States was able to avoid tragedy, not through homeland security training and planning.
We live in dangerous times, when enemies foreign and domestic are planning attacks that will cost American lives. One mistake is too many, and while we were lucky to evade tragedy in this instance, without an experienced person in charge of the Office of Homeland Security, we may not be so lucky the next time.
While I recognize that you are a dedicated and well-meaning public servant, I believe that you simply do not have the proper law enforcement qualifications and counterterrorism background to head the nation’s very delicate homeland security operations. It’s time that the United States move away from political appointees and former governors, and put the Office of Homeland Security in the hands of individuals with real law-enforcement and counterterrorism experience.
I know you are committed to protecting Americans, and I hope that you will recognize that the responsible thing to do at this point would be to resign, in order to allow President Obama an opportunity to appoint a more qualified individual to the position of Secretary of Homeland Security. We cannot rely on dumb luck and mechanical malfunctions to keep our fellow Americans safe from terrorist threats and attempted attacks.
I thank you very much for your consideration.
Richard J. Codey
New Jersey Acting Governor
CC: President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500