CELESTE HEADLEE: Let’s talk about Haiti quickly, the United States has pledged 100 million dollars in aid to that country and I’m wondering, how are the relief efforts going? We just heard from Wyclef Jean that there’s still a back up of supplies at the airport.
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY JANET NAPOLITANO: Right, the issue is getting it from the airport into port-au-prince, and that’s getting better everyday, but that means getting trucks onto the island; trucks to move the food and supplies from the airport in to the city itself. We have been hopeful that the ports would be open soon, which would allow large ships to come into the port and unload, which is the most immediate way of getting lots of aid right into the city, but the port was more damaged than people had originally thought. So there’s still work to be done there, but nonetheless, literally millions of MREs have been delivered. I heard him speak, there are tarps and shelters going in, medical supplies, medical personnel have been airlifted in some cases; overland routes, not just within Haiti established but from the Dominican Republic, so lots of aid streaming into Haiti right now in the face of really such a severe catastrophe.
HEADLEE:Well, we also heard earlier on this program that there’s thousands of Haitians who are looking to get to Florida and leave Haiti during its time of disaster. And what do you think of immigration laws? Should we loosen them a bit to allow more Haitians to come in and stay here, at least temporarily?
NAPOLITANO:No, I think what we’ve done is the right thing, which is to grant Haitians, who were already here, the ability to stay, to work, and if they’re working to be able to send money back to Haiti – that in and of itself is a form of economic assistance to Haiti. But a mass migration of individuals right now would not be something that would be in anybody’s best interest.
HEADLEE:Why wouldn’t that help the Haitians at least temporarily to leave while the capital is being rebuilt
NAPOLITANO:Well first of all, the crossing is very, very dangerous. So let’s be clear about that, but secondly, Haiti needs to rebuild and the men and women of Haiti are in that process of rebuilding. This is their country. And the country of Haiti, itself, has not asked for that sort of program. What they’ve asked for is assistance; help them get back on their feet and to rebuild their country and to rebuild it even more strongly than they had before the earthquake itself.
HEADLEE:This is only the most recent thing on your plate, obviously your department is still dealing with the foiled bomb plot from Christmas day. You’ve received a lot of criticism over that incident. And president Obama earlier this month said that the security departments involved failed to connect the dots. He said it was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence we already had. How come eight years after September 11th we’re still making the same mistake?
NAPOLITANO:Well this wasn’t a 9/11 style issue; this is very different. Let me be very clear: there were failures in the intelligence community to put some things together. Those are being repaired and have been repaired from the moment this came to light. When you actually go in and look at what happened on flight 253, it was a series of things and every single domino had to fall the wrong way for Umar Faruq to get on this plane with explosives in his underwear. That is a failure that we do not want repeated so the intel community has already taken this on. On our side of the ledger, which is screening etc., of course we don’t screen at international airports but we have reached out to the international community already to say, ‘look he would have taken down citizens from 17 countries if that plane had gone down.’ So we have already embarked on a very ambitious program to increase aviation security around the world.