DHS Secretary Napolitano Resigns, TSA Body Scanner Scandal Remains Unresolved

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is resigning to become president of the University of California system. Republican politicians such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) quickly praised Napolitano when news of her resignation broke, with McCain saying she “served our nation with honor” and McCaul touting her as “someone who does not underestimate the threats against us.”

Fortunately, not all Republican members of Congress are as enthusiastic when it comes to America’s bloated and malignant security state. “Secretary Napolitano’s departure comes not a minute too soon,” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.). “Now is a good time for Congress to consider dismantling the monstrous Department of Homeland Security and replacing it with a smaller security focused entity that is realistically capable of connecting the dots of threats posed to our national security.” Hear, hear, Rep. Mica.

News of Napolitano’s resignation deserves one response from civil libertarians and those in favor of risk-based security policy: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Among other unsavory deeds, for her entire tenure, she allowed the Transportation Security Administration to illegally deploy whole-body imaging scanners in airports. Until a court ordered the TSA in July 2011 to conduct the legally mandated regulatory proceeding, officials at the Department of Homeland Security maintained that such basic lawful administrative procedures were unnecessary and the public had no right to officially comment on the use of the machines. It then took over a year and a half for the TSA to open the regulatory proceeding in March 2013, something it should have done in 2009 before deploying the scanners in the first place.

In the proceeding, CEI and former American Airlines Chairman and CEO Robert L. Crandall submitted formal comments highlighting the TSA’s continued flouting of federal law and the agency’s incredibly shoddy cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment (which remains classified for some reason). These comments can be found here with a podcast explaining the issues at stake available here. The TSA is still illegally deploying body scanners and it will likely take another court order to ultimately put a halt to, or at least reduce, the agency’s pathological lawlessness.

While we cheer what is hopefully the end of Napolitano’s political career, it is quite possible the Obama administration’s replacement could be even worse. On that slightly pessimistic note, happy Friday, everyone!