Where in the World Is Janet Napolitano?

By Stew Magnuson
Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano at the outset of her tenure signaled her intent to engage with partners overseas.

“Secretary Napolitano is committed to strengthening relationships between the United States and countries around the world, which will help keep the United States more safe and secure,” said a DHS statement released before her first overseas trip.

Since that first visit to Germany in March 2009, Napolitano has been to 24 different countries, some multiple times, according to a list compiled from DHS press releases.

In the first year, the secretary traveled to Mexico (twice), Czech Republic, Canada, Kuwait, Ireland, Great Britain (twice), Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, and the United Arab Emirates.

The following years saw trips to Japan, Nigeria, India, New Zealand, Australia and Hungary. November 2010 was a particularly busy time with one trip to Panama and Mexico, and then later in the month, a five-nation sojourn to Afghanistan, Qatar, Israel, Ireland and Belgium.

A stop in Italy on a three-nation tour that included the UAE and Saudi Arabia, was canceled because of the BP oil spill.

July this year saw her visit Spain for the fifth time, with a stopover in Austria before returning to Washington, D.C. Combine these trips with a busy domestic schedule that has totaled at least 29 states, and the secretary is well traveled.

Many of the trips are characterized in press releases as opportunities to strengthen ties with her counterparts. The secretary has also participated in several international forums.

During a telephone news conference announcing the 2012 budget proposal with reporters earlier this year, DHS spokespeople said the department would be reducing staff travel as means to trim its expenses.

DHS spokesman Adam Fetcher declined to answer questions about the cost of the international trips, but noted that the threat the nation faces is transnational, and in a globalized world, efforts to protect the homeland start abroad.

“After the attempted terrorist attack on Dec. 25, 2009, Secretary Napolitano embarked on an unprecedented international initiative to strengthen the security of our global aviation and supply chain systems by enhancing information sharing, increasing cooperation on the development and deployment of new technology, and modernizing security standards around the world,” he said.

DHS has signed international agreements with 20 nations and the European Union, which builds off of work done in previous administrations, he added.

Topics: Homeland Security, DHS Leadership

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