Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters at a White House briefing Monday that the nation would be more vulnerable to a terrorist attack if sequester cuts kick in Friday, as her agency is forced to cut back on everything from border-patrol agents to customs officers to Coast Guard patrols.
She said that customs, port security and TSA agents would still be doing thorough checks, but that borders on land and sea could be more porous with fewer patrols.
“I don’t think we can maintain the same level of security at all places around the country with sequester as [we do] without sequester,” Napolitano said.
At the nation’s airports and ports, she said the effects would be longer lines. She predicted waits at airports could double — to as long as four hours at busy hubs like New York’s JFK. And she said cargo could take as long as five days to clear at busy ports.
“We will work to continue to preserve our frontline priorities as best we can,” Napolitano said.
As for combatting terrorist threats, she said “The sequester makes it awfully awfully tough.”