Mr. Ridge goes to Washington

By Renee Tomcanin
October 11, 2001

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge stood down on Friday, Oct. 5, to take on a new role in the nation’s government. This marks not only a big change for the country but also bigger changes for Pennsylvania.

On Friday, Oct. 5, Ridge became the new director of the Office of Homeland Security. The Cabinet-level post was announced to Congress during President George Bush’s address on Sept. 20. According to Bush, the new position will help the United States develop a plan to better protect the country against further attacks.

“[Ridge] will lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safe guard our country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that may come,” Bush said in his speech.

Ridge will be working with retired Army General Wayne Downing, who will concentrate on the intelligence and military resources, and Richard Clarke, current head of the government’s counterterrorism team. He will work on protecting the nation’s information infrastructure. In addition, he will have “as many as 100 aides detailed from other agencies,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“The only turf we should be worried about protecting is the turf we stand on,” Ridge said during his swearing-in ceremony.

One of the main problems Ridge’s new position may have is that it was created under an executive fiat, rather than an act of Congress. This means the FBI and CIA may be suspicious of Ridge and withhold information. The President has ensured that he will be able to access all intelligence about terrorist threats.

Upon accepting this new position, Ridge resigned as governor. Lieutenant Governor Mark Schweiker was sworn in and will complete the remaining 15 months of Ridge’s term. The change should be “seamless,” according to Ridge.

“It will be impossible to replace a governor as talented, as compassionate and as effective as Tom Ridge,”‘ Schweiker said.

Schweiker has said that he will not seek election in the 2003 gubernatorial race.

Renee Tomcanin

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