Tags: Al-Qaida | Homeland Security | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | Tom Ridge | terrorism | risk

Tom Ridge: Terror Threat Worse Now Than After 9/11

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Feb 2015 01:43 PM

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who became the first secretary of Homeland Security in 2003, said Tuesday the terror threat in the U.S. is more serious than it was after the 9/11 attacks.

Speaking with The Fiscal Times, Ridge said the rise in global terrorism is a cause for serious alarm.

"The risk of terrorist attacks in multiple forms is greater today than it was in 2003 when the Department of Homeland Security was created," said Ridge, a Republican.

Ridge pointed to the growing al-Qaida terror group, which has expanded outside the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the emergence of the Islamic State (ISIS) network that is recruiting members from all parts of the world.

Recent terror attacks in Australia, Canada, Denmark and France have demonstrated the reach of those groups, Ridge said.

"I see on multiple levels that the threat [to the U.S.] is greater today than it was," Ridge said.

President George W. Bush appointed Ridge his homeland security adviser less than a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. At the beginning of 2003, Ridge became chief of Homeland Security, a new department created by the Bush administration to help keep the country safe.

After resigning from his post in 2005, Ridge has served on the boards of several companies, some of which deal with security. He has since founded Ridge Global, a security consulting firm based in the nation's capital.

Republican lawmakers have blocked a measure that would fund the Department of Homeland Security because it would also provide the necessary funds to implement President Barack Obama's immigration reform plan, which would grant amnesty to as many as 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally.

Ridge has joined two other former Homeland Security chiefs, Republican Michael Chertoff and Democrat Janet Napolitano, in trying to talk the GOP into letting the department receive funding out of concerns for national security, reports the Times.

"We do not question your desire to have a larger debate about the nation's immigration laws," the three wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, according to the Times.

"However, we cannot emphasize enough that the DHS's responsibilities are much broader than its responsibility to oversee the federal immigration agencies and to protect our borders. And funding for the entire agency should not be put in jeopardy by the debate about immigration."

Congress must approve of a spending bill by Feb. 27 or risk a partial shutdown of the department that includes the Secret Service, Coast Guard, and several other agencies related to security.

Ridge told the Fiscal Times that in the eyes of the American people, Republicans would be the bad guys if the department is not funded.

"From a political point of view, outside of the Beltway, there is only one party that is going to be held culpable and responsible by Americans, and that's the Republican Party," Ridge said.

Ridge's opinion is supported by a recent poll, which found 53 percent of Americans would blame the Republican-controlled Congress for a department shutdown.

Two weeks ago, meanwhile, Ridge confirmed to Larry King he would support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president in the 2016 election if he joins the race.

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Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who became the first secretary of Homeland Security in 2003, said Tuesday the terror threat in the U.S. is more serious than it was after the 9/11 attacks.
Tom Ridge, terrorism, risk, al-Qaida, isis, homeland
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Wednesday, 18 Feb 2015 01:43 PM
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