Thursday, May 5, 2011

WATCH: Arizona Sen. John McCain Spars With DHS Secy/Fmr AZ Gov. Janet Napolitano

All eyes were on Arizona yesterday at a Senate hearing as Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and DHS Secretary (and former Arizona Governor) Janet Napolitano sparred on who has spent the most time focusing on Arizona/Mexico border issues and how best to address the situation.

While Attorney General Eric Holder was briefing McCain and other lawmakers, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano was beginning her briefing to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs.  McCain came in late and Napolitano offered to catch him up later on DHS plans to initiate a new metric for gauging border security - a metric she said McCain has requested in the past.

McCain, too, wants to meet with Napolitano "before the election season gets too polarizing - although, obviously, it is," and expressed his disappointment that she had not seemed to take the McCain-Kyl-Flake 10-point plan seriously; she indicated that many of the points are already being done and that others may cost more money than the Congress is willing to spend.

The two grew testy over whether and how many drug cartel "spotters" may be sitting on mountain tops in southern Arizona.  McCain called it a fact, Napolitano said she that there are a couple of hundred possible spotting sites but that does not mean that they all have smugglers standing there watching law enforcement movements.  McCain grew exasperated but swallowed his statement that that is "crazy": "This is symptomatic to me of the lack of recognition" of the situation by the Administration.

However, both McCain and Napolitano agree that the border situation in Arizona has  gotten better. McCain:  "I agree that there have been improvements and I'm grateful for those improvements.  But., I argue that they have not kept up with the escalation of violence on the other side of the border."

Napolitano:  "In my judgment, what we need to do at the border is exactly what we are doing and more so and sustain it.  It's more manpower, it's more technology, it's more infrastructure.  It's adding air cover, which we now have across Arizona which we didn't have before."

The 15-minute exchange is worth watching.  Following that, I have embedded a fine summary report that aired on KJZZ (91.5, Phoenix, NPR) this morning.

Oh, and with all due respect to both McCain and Napolitano, I think that there are plenty of professional law enforcement individuals who have spent more time dealing with Arizona-Mexico border issues - some of them at the policy levels, too.
(embedded player deleted because it automatically played)

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