Outgoing DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Warns of ‘Serious’ Cyber Attack, Unprecedented Natural Disaster
by Mike Levine Aug 27, 2013 10:39am
Outgoing Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delivers farewell remarks today at the National Press Club in Washington reflecting on four-plus years as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. Credit: Mike Levine/ABC News
The outgoing Homeland Security Secretary has a warning for her successor: A massive and “serious” cyber attack on the U.S. homeland is coming, and a natural disaster — the likes of which the nation has never seen — is also likely on its way.
So prepare, and bring “a large bottle of Advil,” Janet Napolitano told her yet-to-be-named replacement in a farewell address Tuesday morning.
“Many things still need tending, and my successor will most certainly have a full plate on his or her hands,” said Napolitano, who leaves her post next week after more than four years at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security.
Napolitano said she faced “many challenges” during her tenure at DHS, from the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
DHS — backed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal departments and agencies — led the federal government’s response to such disasters.
During Napolitano’s tenure, her department managed 325 federally declared disasters, and issued more than 60 emergency declarations, she said at the National Press Club in Washington this morning.
Leading a department created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks meant Napolitano has also been at the forefront of the nation’s counterterrorism and border enforcement efforts.
After the failed Christmas Day “underwear bombing” attempt in 2009, Napolitano launched a worldwide and “historic” effort — in 190 countries — to enhance passenger screening and counter the threat of “nonmetallic devices” on aircraft, she said.
Transportation Security Administration officers are stationed at airports around the world.
“The lesson is clear: For every attack we experience, every threat we face and every piece of intelligence we come across, we learn,” she said. ”And we get stronger and more nimble.”
During her farewell address, Napolitano, who was governor of Arizona before becoming DHS secretary, touted her department’s work on border security and immigration reform.