Ridge Worries Over Homeland Security Priorities

By Matthew Harwood

With his political memoir of his days as chief of homeland security ready to hit shelves tomorrow, former Gov. Tom Ridge told Time magazine that the nation isn't taking homeland security seriously enough.

Ridge says he worries about a certain "complacency" about preparing the nation and preventing another attack that has set in on Capitol Hill, and among the wider American public. "For several years the public debate and discussion was about funding priorities and technology," says Ridge, "and I don't hear much of that. It just concerns me because there is still a lot of need."

In particular, he wonders why there is, eight years later, still no first responder communications system, so that police and fire departments across the country can communicate in the event of an attack. And he worries about the continued lack of tracking ability for foreign nationals who overstay their visas. "We don't know today if everybody who came in lawfully with a visa in the last five years has gone home," he says. "What happened to that sense of urgency?"

Considerable buzz surrounds Ridge's memoir after prepublication reports that he criticizes Bush administration cabinet members for pressuring him to raise the terror alert system warning level before the 2004 presidential election between George Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). In the Time interview, Ridge backs away from the book, claiming that political pressure did not lead to his raising of the terror alert level.

"[I]t was wrong for me to put it in," he told Time

Photo by NewsHour/Flickr


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