Janet Napolitano offers some advice to new chief

Janet Napolitano offered this advice to whoever succeeds her: “You will need a large bottle of Advil.”
Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press
Janet Napolitano offered this advice to whoever succeeds her: “You will need a large bottle of Advil.”

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is resigning next week, expressed disappointment Tuesday during her farewell remarks that Congress failed to pass a law providing a path to citizenship for many young immigrants living in the United States illegally.

Her legacy includes managing the Obama administration’s responses to foiled and successful terrorism attacks against the United States, the Gulf oil spill disaster, other important changes to immigration policies, the Secret Service prostitution scandal, and rampant cyber break-ins of US government computers blamed on China and others.

She offered this advice to whoever succeeds her: ‘‘You will need a large bottle of Advil.’’


Napolitano, the third Homeland Security secretary, will leave Sept. 6 to take over as president of the University of California system. It is unclear when President Obama will name a permanent successor or who that person will be. Rand Beers, the department’s acting number two, is expected to become acting secretary when Napolitano leaves.

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With more than 240,000 employees, the Homeland Security Department is among Washington’s most sprawling bureaucracies and includes immigration and intelligence offices, the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and others. Napolitano popularized her catchphrase, ‘‘If you see something, say something.’’

‘‘Some have said that being the secretary of DHS is the most thankless job in Washington. That is not true,’’ she said. ‘‘No doubt, it’s a very big and complex job. It’s literally a 24/7 job. Yet, as my successor will soon learn, it’s also one of the most rewarding jobs there is.’’

When she took office in early 2009 after her reelection as Arizona’s governor, Napolitano made immigration reform a top priority and did not mention terrorism during her first appearance on Capitol Hill. But she presided as Homeland Security secretary during violent attacks against the United States, including the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this year.

An Al Qaeda operative attempted to blow up a commercial jetliner over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. In the wake of that failed attack, Napolitano famously declared that the ‘‘system worked.’’


Napolitano said security improvements after the attempted bombing — and after a disrupted plot in 2010 to detonate bombs hidden inside printer cartridges aboard planes flying to the United States — have made the country safer.

Envoy to seek release of American held in N. Korea

WASHINGTON — A senior US envoy will travel to North Korea this week to seek the release of an American sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, the State Department said Tuesday.

The visit by Bob King, the US special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will be the first public trip to North Korea by an administration official in more than two years and could provide an opening for an improvement in relations strained by Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

A State Department spokeswoman said King will request a pardon and amnesty for Kenneth Bae, 45, on humanitarian grounds.

Bae, a tour operator and Christian missionary, was arrested in November and accused of committing ‘‘hostile acts’’ against North Korea. He suffers from multiple health problems.