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WASHINGTON: The homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, is re-evaluating the largest federal program for testing the country's ability to respond to terrorist attacks, one of several Bush administration initiatives she has ordered to come under review.
As governor of Arizona, Napolitano sent a searing two-page letter to her predecessor as secretary, Michael Chertoff, complaining that a $25 million national exercise in October 2007, which she and 23,000 other federal, state and local emergency workers participated in, was too expensive, too long in planning and "too removed from a real-world scenario."
Now, in her first weeks as head of the Homeland Security Department, Napolitano has ordered a review of that program and several others, including cybersecurity, a strategy for protecting the border with Canada, and the vulnerability of power plants and other critical infrastructure.
The directives implicitly raise questions about how well the Bush administration prepared the nation's defenses against a terrorist attack. But they also reflect what homeland security analysts say is Napolitano's desire to apply her practical experiences as a border-state governor to several important homeland security policies.
Her pointed comments on the emergency preparedness exercise, which she repeated last month at her Senate confirmation hearing, offer a glimpse into how Napolitano may retool one the centerpieces of the Bush administration's domestic security architecture.