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Is Janet Napolitano to blame for Flight 253 security failure?

Republicans have focused blame for the security failures of Northwest Flight 253 on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. But there are other reasons that many conservatives are dissatisfied with her.

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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appears on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.

William B. Plowman/NBC Newswire/AP

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In the rush to fix blame for a failure to prevent last week’s attack on Northwest Flight 253, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano quickly emerged as the Obama administration’s designated lightning rod.

She has, in one important respect, brought the criticism upon herself. On the Sunday talk shows days after the incident, she said that "the system worked" – an assertion that President Obama himself contradicted two days later in calling the incident a "systematic failure."

Yet, in many respects, the statement by Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana that the blame for allowing a bomber to board a Detroit-bound plane in Amsterdam "rests solely on the shoulders of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano” is a curious.

It was Nigerian and Dutch officials who were responsible for airport checkpoints. It was the US State Department that did not not revoke the multiple-entry visa of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a young Nigerian with suspected ties to terrorism. And it was the job of the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, to make sure there was adequate sharing of intelligence among agencies.

Immigration reform in the background

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