Janet Napolitano: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Janet Napolitano

Assumed office 
January 21, 2009
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Michael Chertoff

In office
January 6, 2003 – January 21, 2009
Preceded by Jane Dee Hull
Succeeded by Jan Brewer

In office
Governor Jane Dee Hull
Preceded by Grant Woods
Succeeded by Terry Goddard

In office
President Bill Clinton

Born November 29, 1957 (1957-11-29) (age 52)
New York City, New York
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Virginia School of Law (JD)
Santa Clara University (BA)
Occupation Attorney
Religion Methodist

Janet Napolitano (pronounced /nəpɒlɨˈtænoʊ/[1]; born November 29, 1957) is the third and current United States Secretary of Homeland Security, serving within the administration of President Barack Obama. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the 21st Governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009. She was Arizona's third female governor, and the first woman to win re-election. Prior to her election as governor, she served as Attorney General of Arizona from 1999 to 2002.

On December 1, 2008, President-elect Obama announced his intention to nominate Napolitano as United States Secretary of Homeland Security. She was sworn into office on January 21, 2009, after being confirmed by the United States Senate. She is the first woman to serve in that office.


Early life

Janet Napolitano was born on November 29, 1957 in New York City, the daughter of Jane Marie (née Winer) and Leonard Michael Napolitano, who was the Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.[2] She is of Italian heritage[3] and is a Methodist.[4] She was the oldest of three children; she has a younger brother (Leonard Jr.) and a sister (Nancy). She was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque in 1975 and was voted Most Likely to Succeed. She graduated from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, where she won a Truman Scholarship, and was valedictorian. She then received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school she served as a law clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then joined Schroeder's former firm, the Phoenix law firm Lewis and Roca.[5]

Political career

In 1991, while a partner with the private Phoenix law firm Lewis and Roca LLP, Napolitano served as an attorney for Anita Hill.[5][6] Anita Hill testified in the U.S. Senate that then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her ten years earlier when she was his subordinate at the federal EEOC.[7]

In 1993, Napolitano was appointed by President Bill Clinton as United States Attorney for the District of Arizona.[5] As U.S. Attorney, she was involved in the investigation of Michael Fortier of Kingman, Arizona, in connection to the Oklahoma City bombing. She ran for and won the position of Arizona Attorney General in 1998. Her tenure focused on consumer protection issues and improving general law enforcement.

While still serving as attorney general, she spoke at the 2000 Democratic National Convention just three weeks after having a mastectomy. Napolitano recalls that the pain was so unbearable that she couldn't stand up. "Work and family helped me focus on other things while I battled the cancer," says Napolitano. "I am very grateful for all the support I had from family, friends and Arizonans." [8]



She narrowly won the Arizona gubernatorial election of 2002 with 46 percent of the vote, succeeding Republican Jane Dee Hull and defeating her Republican opponent, former congressman Matt Salmon, who received 45 percent of the vote. She was Arizona's third female governor and the first woman in the United States to be elected governor to succeed another elected female governor.[9] She spoke at the 2004 Democratic Convention[10] after some initially considered her to be a possible running mate for presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election but Kerry selected Sen. John Edwards instead. In November 2005, Time magazine named her one of the five best governors in the U.S.[11]

Napolitano speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

As Governor, Napolitano set records for total number of vetoes issued. In 2005, she set a single session record of 58 vetoes, breaking Jane Dee Hull's 2001 record of 28.[12][13] This was followed in June 2006, less than four years into her term, when she issued her 115th veto and set the all-time record for vetoes by an Arizona governor. The previous record of 114 vetoes was set by Bruce Babbitt during his nine years in office.[13][14] By the time she left office, the governor had issued 180 vetoes.[15]

In November 2006, Napolitano won the gubernatorial election of 2006, defeating the Republican challenger, Len Munsil, by a nearly 2–1 ratio and becoming the first woman to be re-elected to that office. Arizona's constitution provides a two-consecutive-term term limit for its governors,[16] meaning Napolitano would have been barred from seeking a third term in office in 2010.

In January 2006, she won the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service. She was a member of the Democratic Governors Association Executive Committee. Furthermore, she has also served previously as Chair of the Western Governors Association, and the National Governors Association. She served as NGA Chair from 2006 to 2007,[17] and was the first female governor and first governor of Arizona ever to serve in that position.

Secretary of Homeland Security

In February 2006, Napolitano was named by The White House Project as one of "8 in '08", a group of eight female politicians who could possibly run for president in 2008.[18] On January 11, 2008, Napolitano endorsed then Illinois Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president.[19] On November 5, 2008, Napolitano was named to the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.[20] On December 1, 2008, Barack Obama introduced Napolitano as his nominee for United States Secretary of Homeland Security.[21][22] On January 20, 2009, Napolitano was confirmed, becoming the first woman appointed Secretary in the relatively new department. Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer became the governor of Arizona, as the state does not have a lieutenant governor.

Napolitano announcing a border security task force.
Napolitano discussing security at a Super Bowl XLIV press conference. The Super Bowl is designated as a National Special Security Event by Homeland Security.

In March 2009, Napolitano told the German news site "Spiegel Online" that while she presumes there is always a threat from terrorism: "I referred to 'man-caused' disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur."[23] In April 2009 Napolitano, trying to defend her plans to thicken US-Canadian border security, claimed incorrectly that September 11 attack perpetrators entered the United States from Canada. Her comments provoked an angry response from the Canadian ambassador, media, and public.[24]

In response to criticism, she later said, "Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there."[25]

Right-wing extremism memo controversy

Napolitano was the subject of controversy after a Department of Homeland Security threat assessment report initiated during the administration of George W. Bush, entitled "Rightwing [sic] Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,"[26] was made public in April 2009. The report suggested several factors, including the election of the first black or mixed race President in the person of Barack Obama, perceived future gun control measures, illegal immigration, the economic downturn beginning in 2008, the abortion controversy, and disgruntled military veterans' possible vulnerability to recruitment efforts by extremist groups as potential risk factors regarding right-wing extremism recruitment.[27]

On April 16, 2009, the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed suit against DHS on behalf of controversial radio talk show host and political commentator Michael Savage, executive director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform Gregg Cunningham, and Iraqi War Marine veteran Kevin Murray.[28][29] Savage stated that the document "encourages law enforcement officers throughout the nation to target and report citizens to federal officials as suspicious right-wing extremists and potential terrorists because of their political beliefs."[30]

Napolitano made multiple apologies for any offense veterans groups had taken at the reference to veterans in the assessment, and promised to meet with those groups to discuss the issue.[26] The Department of Homeland Security admitted a "breakdown in an internal process" by ignoring objections by the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to an unnamed portion of the document.[31]

While the American Legion reportedly criticized the assessment, Glen M. Gardner Jr., the national commander of the 2.2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars, defended it generally, saying it "should have been worded differently" but served a vital purpose. "A government that does not assess internal and external security threats would be negligent of a critical public responsibility," he said in a statement.[32]

"The system worked" controversy

Sec. Napolitano was criticized[33] for stating in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley that, "the system worked" with regard to an attempted terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 approaching Detroit, Michigan on Christmas Day 2009. She later went on NBC's Today Show with host Matt Lauer and stated that the security system had indeed failed.

The statement by Napolitano to Crowley that received criticism was as follows:

What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. And one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated. So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.[34]

Personal life

Napolitano is unmarried. She is an avid basketball fan and regularly plays tennis.[35] Whitewater rafting and hiking are among Napolitano's hobbies. She has hiked in Arizona's Superstition Mountains and New Mexico's Sandia Mountains and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and the Himalayas. [36] Napolitano survived breast cancer that was discovered in 1998.

Electoral history

Arizona Gubernatorial Election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Janet Napolitano 499,284 46.2 +0.9
Republican Matt Salmon 478,935 45.3
Independent Richard Mahoney 84,947 6.9
Libertarian Barry Hess 20,356 1.7
Democratic gain from Republican Swing
Arizona Gubernatorial Election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Janet Napolitano (Incumbent) 959,830 62.6 +16.4
Republican Len Munsil 543,528 35.4
Libertarian Barry Hess 30,268 2.0
Democratic hold Swing

See also


  1. ^ http://www.politico.com/playbook/0509/playbook682.html
  2. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Janet Napolitano". WARGS.com. http://www.wargs.com/political/napolitano.html. 
  3. ^ Radzischewski, Andre F. (December. 7, 2008). "Napolitano's Heritage, Border Strategies Fascinate Italy". The Arizona Republic. http://www.annoticoreport.com/2008/12/gov-napolitanos-heritage-elevation.html. Retrieved March 4, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Elections: Janet Napolitano (Dem)". Washington Times. August 26, 2007. http://www.washingtontimes.com/elections/candidate/413/. Retrieved March 4, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Goldstein, Dana (July 7, 2008). "Janet Napolitano and the New Third Way". The American Prospect. http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=janet_napolitano_and_the_new_third_way. 
  6. ^ David Brock, "The Real Anita Hill"
  7. ^ "Opening Statement: Sexual Harassment Hearings Concerning Judge Clarence Thomas", Women's Speeches from Around the World
  8. ^ Danielle D'Adamo, "Janet Napolitano: Getting to Know AZ's Governor"
  9. ^ Tom Squitieri, "Democrat attorney general finally wins in 'ugliest race'", USA Today, November 11, 2002.
  10. ^ Janet Napolitano CBS News, July 23, 2004
  11. ^ Ripley, Amanda; Tumulty, Karen (2005-11-13). "America's 5 Best Governors". Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1129494,00.html. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  12. ^ "With 42, Napolitano is State's Veto Queen". The Arizona Daily Star. May 5, 2005. p. A4. 
  13. ^ a b "Ariz. Governor Is Close To Record for Vetoes". The Washington Post. June 5, 2006. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E3D71431F934A35755C0A9609C8B63. 
  14. ^ Archibold, Randal C. (June 7, 2006). "Arizona Governor Vetoes Bill Aimed at Illegal Immigration". New York Times. p. =A5. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/04/AR2006060400750.html. 
  15. ^ Benson, Matthew; Pitzl, Mary Jo (November 21, 2008). "Napolitano Exit Would Clear Way for GOP to Define State Agenda". The Arizona Republic. http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2008/11/20/20081120departure1121.html. 
  16. ^ "Term limits on executive department and state officers; term lengths; election; residence and office at seat of government; duties". Arizona State Legislature. 1992. http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/const/5/1.1.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  17. ^ National Governors Association
  18. ^ The White House Project (2006-02-16). "8 for ’08 : The White House Project and Parade Announce Eight Female Candidates for 2008 Presidency". Press release. http://www.thewhitehouseproject.org/newsroom/releases/2006/PressRelease021606.php. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  19. ^ Davenport, Paul (2008-01-11). "Napolitano endorses Obama". Tucson Citizen. http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/ss/nationworld/73850.php. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  20. ^ Sweet, Lynn Jarrett, Podesta, Rouse to lead Obama transition; Bill Daley co-chair Chicago Sun-Times, November 5, 2008
  21. ^ change.gov (1 December 2008). "Key members of Obama-Biden national security team announced" (Press release). Newsroom. Office of the President-elect. http://change.gov/newsroom/entry/key_members_of_obama_biden_national_security_team_announced/. Retrieved December 1, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Obama names Napolitano to Cabinet post". Tucson Citizen. 2008-12-01. http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/ss/fromcomments/103929.php. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  23. ^ Meyer, Cordula (2009-03-16). "Away From the Politics of Fear". Spiegel Online. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,613330,00.html. 
  24. ^ Alberts, Sheldon (2009-04-21). "Homeland Security boss rebuked by Canada for erroneous 9/11 statement". Canada.com. http://www.canada.com/News/Homeland+Security+boss+rebuked+Canada+erroneous+statement/1519303/story.html. 
  25. ^ News, CBC (2009-04-21). "Canada more lax than U.S. about whom it lets in, Napolitano says". Canada.com. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/04/21/napolitano-border-canada021.html. 
  26. ^ a b "Homeland security chief apologizes to veterans groups"
  27. ^ Huffington Post - Homeland Security Report Warns Of Rising Right-Wing Extremism.
  28. ^ The Thomas More Law Center - Napolitano is Lying to Americans About Her Department’s Rightwing Extremism Report; TMLC Files Suit http://www.thomasmore.org/qry/page.taf?id=19
  29. ^ Thomas More Law Center law suit
  30. ^ Michael Savage Lawsuit http://michaelsavage.wnd.com/files/filesSavage/Complaint_Against_Department_of_Homeland_Security.pdf
  31. ^ Newsday.com - Homeland Security admits error with extremism report
  32. ^ CNN - Homeland security chief apologizes to veterans groups
  33. ^ "Richard Grenell: You're Doing a Heck of a Job, Janet". Huffingtonpost.com. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-grenell/youre-doing-a-heck-of-a-j_b_406212.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  34. ^ "CNN.com - Transcripts". Transcripts.cnn.com. 2009-12-27. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0912/27/sotu.01.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  35. ^ "Ariz. governor picked for Homeland Security post" The Guardian. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
  36. ^ "10 Things You Didn't Know About Janet Napolitano". US News and World Report. Retrieved December 4, 2008.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Chertoff
United States Secretary of Homeland Security
Served under: Barack Obama

2009 – present
Preceded by
Jane Dee Hull
Governor of Arizona
2003 – 2009
Succeeded by
Jan Brewer
Preceded by
Mike Huckabee
Chairman of National Governors Association
2006 – 2007
Succeeded by
Tim Pawlenty
Legal offices
Preceded by
Grant Woods
Attorney General of Arizona
1999 – 2003
Succeeded by
Terry Goddard
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Eric Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
United States order of precedence
Secretary of Homeland Security
Succeeded by
Rahm Emanuel
White House Chief of Staff
United States presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Eric Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
18th in line
Secretary of Homeland Security
Succeeded by

Simple English

Janet Ann Napolitano (born November 29, 1957) is the third United States Secretary of Homeland Security. She assumed the job on January 21, 2009, and is the first woman to serve in that office.She is of Italian heritage.[1]



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