April 19th, 2010
04:31 PM ET
13 years ago

Expressions of political anger are protected, Napolitano says

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/19/art.janet0419.cnn.jpg caption="'There's obviously a great deal of political anger out there and angry rhetoric out there,' Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in an interview that airs Monday on CNN."]
Washington (CNN) – President Obama's top homeland security official said Monday that the government has an obligation to tolerate expressions of political anger, while being ever vigilant for behavior that crosses the line into violence.

In an interview set to air Monday on CNN's The Situation Room, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was asked whether Obama's status as the first African-American president is playing any role in motivating anti-government groups.

"It is mentioned by some, but lots of things are now being mentioned," she said. "So it's really hard to extrapolate from what a few are saying to what all are saying or what all believe.

"There's obviously a great deal of political anger out there and angry rhetoric out there. But, as I said earlier, that's something that we've had constantly in our country's history. We may not like it – don't appreciate it – but it is protected under our Constitution, under our sense of values. Where it's not protected is where you start moving into preparation for and carrying out violent acts."

Napolitano added that all levels of law enforcement have to be "leaning forward" and sharing threat information in order to minimize the chance of another event such as the Oklahoma City bombing or the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Napolitano was in Oklahoma Monday to attend a ceremony remembering victims of the bombing.

The Homeland Security secretary told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux that the Secret Service is "constantly monitoring" the safety of the president, the vice president, and their families. "That is something that there's no quarter left unspent to make that happen," she said.

In the interview, Napolitano also discusses what the government learned about improving security because of the Oklahoma City bombing, whether the climate in terms of anti-government activity in 2010 resembles that of 15 years ago when the bombing occurred, and if returning veterans are at particular risk for becoming disaffected and joining anti-government groups.

Napolitano was also asked about rumors that she is being considered for the Supreme Court.

The interview airs Monday, 5 p.m. ET on The Situation Room.

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. conniesz

    We, the moderate middle class, are the new silent majority. I'm hoping we're out in force in November. The mantra should be one that worked in the past – "are you better off now than you were two years ago?" – if the answer is yes, you should vote for the Dems because they're the ones making things happen. I think almost all of us are better off than we were two years ago – although the tea baggers would never admit it – even though they paid less tax this year than they would have under the Bush regime (unless, of course, they make more than $250K – which would mean they are once again paying something close to their fair share).

    April 19, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  2. mark

    I love how our media labels free speech when its not for their chosen one.

    April 19, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  3. Beth

    We may not like it but we can point it out as being dangerous and thoughtless when it occurs.

    April 19, 2010 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  4. Ron

    What is frustrating is the liberal philosophy, if completely implemented, would kill this economy. Think of the U.S. economy as a large factory. Can that factory survive if a large number of workers did not work? But the factory still had to support them? Absolutely not. So how can a U.S. economy survive if a large number do not contribute in productivity? If we had two states side by side and one was allowed to be pure capitalist (State C) and one pure socialist (State S) then State S would be completelyl bankrupt in 10 years and State C would be thriving. If that is the case then why do liberals believe their economic philosophy would work? That philosophy has NEVER worked. Just continue killing this country and economy.

    April 19, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  5. Alert the media

    Violence has been perpetrated by those against the tea party.
    Strange that the media has failed to report on these incidents.

    April 19, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  6. ro of la

    I think the way some cnn pundits talk on the news shows have a lot to do with the attitude people take toward government and elected officials. For example it really gets me mad when I hear a pundit say Americans do not trust the government. I am an American and I do not mistrust the government. Why cant the pundit say some Americans or a poll of___ feel that way. This way of talking gives people the impression that all people feel a certain way and I am insulted by it. At one point I heard a pundit say some negative things about Nancy Pelosi like "that woman" when he was referring to her. That effects the way people think and it is very biased to me. It may even have contributed to the the attitude people took about her.

    April 19, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. conniesz

    Hey reality – under this "inept" president we have achieved health care reform, turned the corner on the worst economic recession/depression since the 1930s, and are about to rein in Wall Street. That's a heck of a lot of accomplishments for someone so ill qualified to be President. Imagine what he could do if he was qualified 🙂

    The fact is he won by a huge margin and most of those who voted for him are too busy actually working real jobs to show up at protests like the teabaggers do. We did show up to protest the Bush wars – but at that time you called us traitors and a whole lot of other ugly words. I just call the teabaggers deluded, misinformed, and deliberately ignorant...

    Good luck with that hate thing – we will prevail in November. I can't wait to see steam coming out of Hannity's ears after that.

    April 19, 2010 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
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