Napolitano delivers Compton Lecture

3773 napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano addressed the MIT community with “The Future of Science as Public Service” at the 2011 Compton Lecture, held Monday in Kresge Auditorium. Napolitano spoke on how the collaboration between scientists and the government will be the future of national security. The Secretary was the first woman to give a Compton Lecture.
Feng Wu—The Tech

Napolitano delivers Compton Lecture

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano presented the Karl Taylor Compton Lecture yesterday before a modest turnout in Kresge Auditorium. Napolitano is the first woman in the Compton Lecture Series, which has included Niels Bohr, two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, and Senator Ted Kennedy.

The title of yesterday’s speech was “The Future of Science as Public Service.” Describing the diverse challenges faced by her department, Napolitano emphasized her goal of developing challenging and rewarding scientific careers in government capable of attracting scientists as much as academia and the private sector do. She said more scientists are needed to apply knowledge across the government and that government and public policy specialists were likewise needed in the science private sector.

Napolitano said the DHS is responsible for a large amount of data, and it must also balance civil rights and liberties when implementing security measures. She said aviation security must be as non-intrusive as possible, while still effective and fast; technology must be able to easily detect tip-offs that hint at potential danger.

“The challenges we confront constantly change,” Napolitano said, adding that policies must be able to adapt to change. She suggested that greater collaboration between government and science would help lead to such policies.

After the speech, MIT President Susan J. Hockfield presented Napolitano with the Compton Bowl, made by MIT’s Glass Lab.

During the question-and-answer period, Napolitano fielded a question about racial profiling, saying its use in security is illegal, unconstitutional, and ineffective.

­­—Derek Chang

Travis Miller over 12 years ago

The question I asked (curtailed due to time restrictions):

I disagree strongly with the premises of your organizations actions. You came here today to speak about public service through science, however, a great many of the activities undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security, particularly ICE, are doing a great disservice to the people who live and work in America.

In public speeches, you have discussed the importance of beginning immigration reform with enforcement; I strongly disagree and would offer that immigration reform begins with rapidly opening up legal channels for citizenship for all who would like to participate in American society. Enforcement clearly has not and will not stop immigrants from coming here, and the reasons they need to come here are directly linked to this countrys domestic and foreign economic policies.

You have also suggested publicly that immigrants undermine unions and workers rights. Contrary to that assertion, ICE raids undermine unions and workers rights. As early as 1993, the AFL-CIO criticized those who exploit public anxiety by making immigrants and refugees scapegoats for economic problems as they recognize that immigrants are not the cause of our nations problems. Today, unions are among the strongest supporters for immigrants rights. Indeed, true obstacles to workers rights are state governments, as recently witnessed in Wisconsin, Michigan, and New Jersey, and greedy corporate lobbyists.

You suggest that undocumented workers, those you call illegal aliens, make society unfair. American society is indeed unfair, but not because of immigrants. The biggest threat to American Freedom is corporate capitalism. The workings of our failed economic system continually exacerbate the divide between the mega-rich and dirt poor. Disgustingly, investors speculate on the expansion of private immigration detention centers due to your policies, and lead to perverse incentives for the rapidly rising incarceration of hard working immigrants that our country relies on. Here in Boston, 23 of those deported under your Secure Communities program were non-criminals. That program is a misnomer. It creates conditions like those under Arizonas racist SB1070 program.

My question then, Secretary Napolitano, when will you shrink the enforcement and removal program and target the real threats to American freedom: greedy bankers, greedy corporations, and corrupt elected officials?

Travis Miller over 12 years ago


The second to last sentence is the second to last paragraph should read:

"Here in Boston, 23 of those deported under your Secure Communities program were non-criminals."

More here:


That article says "half"; months later it is 68.

Travis Miller over 12 years ago

Two-thirds. You get the point:)