Who's on First at Homeland Security?

By David North on September 11, 2013

The DHS press release headline says it all:

Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Marsha Catron on Acting Secretary Beers' Upcoming Trip to New York and Italy

Not only is there an acting secretary, there's a deputy press secretary presumably acting for the real press secretary.

But that's not all. Rand Beers, whose continuing title is that of one of the under secretaries of DHS, where he is the ranking anti-terrorism person, is the acting deputy secretary, and, it is because of that role that he — now that Janet Napolitano has left town — is also the acting secretary.

Both the positions of secretary and deputy secretary are vacant. The president has not appointed a new secretary, and his nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas (now head of USCIS) to the deputy secretaryship has been snarled in a nasty Senate confirmation fight.

The press release raises three questions:

  1. Given the absence of the acting secretary in Rome, and the lack of a deputy secretary, who is in charge here in Washington while Rand Beers chats with his European opposite numbers?

  2. Didn't Ms. Catron break all the rules of hierarchy when she put her name in lights above that of her (acting) boss?

  3. Couldn't Beers wait for at least a week before he started emulating Ms. Napolitano's well-known, and well-documented traveling urges? The former DHS secretary appeared to be second only to Hillary Clinton in the number and frequency of overseas trips by a Cabinet officer.