The Department of Homeland Security has expanded to the point that it is "not the efficient organization it needs to be," said former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the department's first secretary.
"One of the challenges, I think from my perspective, is we've grown from 180,000 to 240,000 people, and I'm not sure where we needed the additional 160,000," Ridge told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Wednesday.
"We needed more people at the borders and immigration and customs enforcement but I don't know that the messages that I get from some people that have been trying to work with and through the Department of Homeland Security," Ridge said, is that the department is "still not as focused as it needs to be" when it comes to the technology its workers need to do their jobs..
"I think they made gradual progress but it is not the efficient organization it needs to be," said Ridge. "One of the primary reasons is the four secretaries and the new secretary are going to have to report to over 100 committees and subcommittees. At some point in time, Congress is going to limit the jurisdiction so they actually work with the department to make it a more functional organization."
Ridge said he thinks retired Gen. Mike Kelly, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, is a "great choice."
"The man is a proven patriot," said Ridge. "He's a proven leader. He understands the mission, and I think one of the interesting things about it is as a military leader he understands joint operations."
Much of Kelly's success will depend on the quality of men and women he will get at the under-secretary level, said Ridge, as Kelly is a retired military man who is "not used to dealing with the Congress and the political world around which and through the department operates."
Meanwhile, Trump has suggested further vetting of refugees coming from countries linked with terrorism, but Ridge said there is already a great deal of vetting going on.
"It's not unrealistic to suggest that when they go in and apply for that visa, apply for that permission, that pass to come into the United States, everyone is scrutinized very, very carefully," said Ridge. "To my knowledge there's a rigorous screening process that presently exists and under his administration they're not going to reduce or minimize the standards of those kind of inquiries."
Ridge also said he believes Trump will begin to further appreciate the work being done by the intelligence community once he is inaugurated, and to understand the men and women involved are not driven by politics.
"They're not red or blue," Ridge said. "They wrap themselves in the flag. It may be the toughest job that anybody has within the federal government, identifying threats to our citizens and to our interests globally."
Ridge said he also hopes Trump will realize the need to have an intelligence briefing every day, even though he has said he does not need a daily briefing, and "from time to time take a little bedtime reading with him upstairs, because it's a pretty complex world. It's a dangerous world."
He predicted Trump will be confronted "with far more serious sets of challenges [than] any of his predecessors and I do believe that once he gets there, he'll appreciate the value and the insight and perspective that they give as well as other members of the cabinet."
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