January 27th, 2010
05:33 PM ET
12 years ago

Napolitano criticized for not attending House hearing

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caption= "Napolitano criticized for not attending House hearing ."]

Washington (CNN) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is in hot water for not appearing Wednesday at a congressional hearing on the failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said the committee had been told Napolitano would be out of the country and agreed to have her deputy, Jane Holl Lute, testify in her absence.

But Thompson said he understood that Napolitano's schedule changed and she was in Washington. He said the committee should have been informed if she was unable to attend for another reason.

"It's a courtesy the committee deserves," said the chairman.

Although the secretary's plans changed, Lute explained to the members that her appearance in Napolitano's place had been coordinated with committee staff. But that didn't quell the outrage of many of the lawmakers.

Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, said she was "personally disappointed" that Napolitano did not appear.

"She was invited to testify at this very important hearing and she should have been here," Harman said.

Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pennsylvania, said he was dismayed by Napolitano's failure to show up for "something of this magnitude."

"It's fair to ask where the hell is Secretary Napolitano for this hearing, to be quite honest," he said.

Rep. Paul Broun, R-Georgia, said he was "incensed that the secretary won't take time to come here and face this committee. I hope the president will take disciplinary action and gets rid of her."

Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa defended Lute's appearance.

"It's unfortunate that these members have chosen to raise this today," she said. "This witness was agreed upon two weeks ago, and no concerns were raised in the multiple conversations and briefings that the secretary, deputy secretary and other staff have had with members and staff since then."

Kudwa said Napolitano "is ready and willing" to appear before Congress. She would not say what Napolitano was doing at the time of the hearing, citing a department policy of never discussing the secretary's non-public schedule.

Napolitano did appear before two congressional committees last week and is scheduled to testify at four additional ones early next month.

After voicing the objections Wednesday, the committee heard Lute's testimony.

Filed under: Janet Napolitano
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. obama the liar

    She is putting in a resume for another job outside of the USA.

    January 27, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Levitt, NY

    Ahhh...I think she's busy. Plus, she probably knows more about what will be said in the hearing than anyone else. Also, this is just a committee to grandstand, and nothing else.

    I think she did the right thing by missing the GOPer's whining session.

    January 27, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  3. Danny J

    Napolitano thinks the system worked, and doesn't come to defend her work. Why is she still in this position?

    January 27, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Why does she need to show up? Now that Obama is in office the World understands and loves us and there are no more terrorists threatening us.

    That's what was sold to the voters. No wonder people are fed up with the false promises.

    January 27, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. Robin

    She is investigating returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan to see if they are "right wing" nuts.

    Why does this woman still have a job?

    January 27, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. Steve, California

    Like so many of Obama's appointees, she's not qualified for her position and hasn't a clue. Napolitano was a major Obama suck-up (along with Claire McCaskell and others) during the campaign. To appoint her Homeland Security Secretary was not only stupid, it was dangerous. I can't wait until we throw the whole bunch out of office and (God, please) elect some gifted, hard-working, and experienced people to straighten out the mess our nation now finds itself in.

    January 27, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Keith in Austin

    Napolitano reminds me of someone's Italian mother and NOT befitting of the Director of Homeland Security. She is a compelling reason as to why our National Security is compromised and should be replaced by a person with sound experience in fighting International Terrorism.

    January 27, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. La Chatte

    Send her back to Arizona where she belongs. She only has the job because she sold AZ Dems down the river by endorsing Barack W. Obama in spite of the wishes of her constituency who endorsed Hillary Clinton. She's actually a bit slow.

    January 27, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. Andy from NYC

    Her skills are clearly not conducive to Homeland Defense. As I look into my crystal ball, I see her being the first to leave the Obama administration.

    January 27, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Francis, Maui

    We need Joe Arpaio as Homeland Security Security! He will get things done without fanfare and not like those seasoned politician.

    January 27, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  11. sifto77

    Hopefully, she will not show up at all–at any more meetings ...or her office...if she is smart, she will STAY out of the country......give Americans and intelligence community a break....

    January 27, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. OMG

    This lady is a disgrace. Her blatant incompetence is going to harm this great country. She should be dismissed immediately.

    January 27, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  13. jack

    The rumors around AZ is Janet is the one that wears Aqua Velva in the family. I wouldn't care but so far DHS has been a joke and the governor who replaced her in AZ is an even sicker joke (Jan even your own party hates you). Not sure why she took this gig anyway as it is one of the worse in Washington.

    January 27, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  14. Stephanie - Maryland

    This is what the " Bible " states, " When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corin 13:11 This is what I think of the Gop's.

    January 27, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  15. Albo58

    Perhaps she was at the beauty parlor? Thank you, I'll be here all week...don't forget to tip your waitresses!

    January 27, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  16. Shelly

    OMG....this is waste of news. There are million more important news worthy items to report, CNN.

    January 27, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. annie against biased news

    Why should she attend the meeting – she doesn't have a clue as to what she is doing anyway.

    January 27, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  18. Four and The Door

    Homeland Security is really not this Administration's strong suit. They are much better at other things that I just can't think of at this moment.

    January 27, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  19. John D.

    This is the most ludicrous administration ever. does anyone there know anything? Napolitano needs to go as well as Geitner. Here they are in charge and do not have a clue what is going on under them. If for nothing else they need resign due to incompetency.

    January 27, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  20. K(DC)

    Everytime you look around, congress is having a hearing on every incident that raise the level of the media attention and or right wing nuts and todate they have accomplish absolutely Diddy Squat, oh yes one thing, they get on the news and C-Span. Americans don't need hearing, we need actions from a grid lock do nothing Congress, They should give their pay check and the best and you may as well say free health care coverage in the world to the citizens without and they be given the oppertunity to find quality low cost health care for their family. I think then they will get it.

    January 27, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  21. Gerry NH

    Why should she go she dosen't know anything anyway.

    January 27, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. ib

    This woman needs to go; she is putting the country at risk; doesn't know a thing about what's she supposed to be doing.

    January 27, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  23. WrongKindofChange

    She knows and understands Obama politics and although she was not there she did vote "present."

    January 27, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. Jon In Madison

    FIRE HER. Plain and simple. I lived in AZ during her governorship and could easily tell you that she is not qualified to drink a glass of water.

    January 27, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |