WASHINGTON – The leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Friday credited Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for naming an official to lead the Department’s efforts to counter violent extremism but said additional steps are needed.
Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, responded to a letter from the Secretary informing them that she had named John Cohen — who serves as principal deputy Counterterrorism Coordinator and senior advisor to the Secretary – to take charge of DHS’ efforts against violent extremism.
“We thank the Secretary for taking this step to ensure an aggressive and integrated campaign by the Department against violent Islamist extremism,” Lieberman and Collins said in a joint statement. “But we hope this is not her final action in this area. Although John Cohen has performed well in his current position, we do not know yet if an official who is not accountable to Congress through the confirmation process – will be effective in coordinating the DHS effort to counter violent Islamist extremism. We also need a better understanding of the resources – offices, programs, personnel, and funding – dedicated to the effort. And we need to understand how the Department will measure success.
“Violent Islamist extremism is the greatest threat to our homeland security today and therefore should be the greatest priority for whoever leads the Department’s campaign to counter it.
“Finally, we stand firm in our belief that a single official is needed to coordinate activities against violent Islamist extremism across the entire Administration. We will continue to push the Administration toward this goal.”