Janet Napolitano's embarrassing history with Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

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Nov. 24 2008 6:33 AM

Partners in Pink Underwear

Janet Napolitano's embarrassing history with Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

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Of course, few governors arrive at their offices without having made a few malodorous alliances. And Arizona is one of the most conservative states in the nation, where a tough stance on immigration is necessary even to get elected dog catcher. Still, when presented the opportunity to challenge a law-enforcement practice that was splashy and crowd-pleasing but ultimately cruel and futile, Napolitano declined.

Her history with Arpaio isn't necessarily a disqualifying factor. But it is something to consider. The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security cannot be reluctant to stand up and speak out against excesses in law enforcement.

Tom Zoellner, a former reporter for the Arizona Republic, is the author ofThe Heartless Stoneand the forthcoming Uranium.