DHS Secretary Napolitano on the Northern Border

Obama’s new secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, just held a conference call for Canadian reporters to explain the Northern Border Directive she had issued and tamp down reports in the Canadian media that she’s planning to “thicken” the border.

She said that as a former Southern border state governor from Arizona, she doesn’t know much about the situation on America’s northern border and the directive was a way of getting the department to inform her about issues such as manpower, technology, volume of crossings, places of greatest concentration, etc.

“I’m just trying to ask some questions. You would do the same thing if you had come into a large department…” she said.

I asked Napolitano whether, given the economic crisis, and the longstanding complaints from business about the increased costs of post-9/11 security measures and other red tape and fees, would the Obama administration change the “security trumps trade” approach of the Bush administration to one that reconceptualizes security to include economic security.

Her answer was:

“I think that phrase ‘thickening of the border’… I found it a difficult phrase I’m not sure it’s an accurate characterization.”

(These guys would beg to differ. Also these people. And them.)

But she added, ” I am very cognizant of the balance must be struck” [between security and trade.]

She said the stimulus bill would provide additional funds for improving infrastructure on the northern border, but wasn’t ready to announce where or by how much.

She was very upfront in saying, “I am just beginning to learn about this border.”

She said she’s planning a visit to the Canada-US border; no date yet.