Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge Resigns
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will announce his resignation today, CNN has learned. Details soon.
Ridge to Resign, Sources Say (ABC News)
Tom Ridge is resigning as secretary of homeland security, ABC News has learned. Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania, has sent his letter of resignation to President Bush, sources told ABC News. A formal announcement is expected later in the day.
Update (1351): It’s official
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told President Bush earlier today that he is resigning from his job overseeing the most ambitious U.S. government reorganization since the 1940s, sources who know him said.
Details of exactly when Ridge will step down, as well as who will replace him, could not be learned immediately. But among the names being mentioned by administration officials and homeland defense experts are two Republicans, former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III and current Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Ridge’s 170,000-employee department — an amalgam of 22 preexisting agencies including the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Customs Service, and Immigration and Naturalization Service — was formally launched 20 months ago. While security specialists say it has made strides on numerous fronts in protecting the country from terrorist attacks, it has also failed to achieve some goals such as creating a single terrorist watch list and fully protecting U.S. ports.
Gilmore, who was Virginia’s governor from 1998 to 2002, has headed several blue-ribbon panels looking into the issues of domestic defense. Romney headed the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, where security was a paramount concern. He also has worked on homeland security issues for the National Governors Association.
I’d be more excited by Rudy Guiliani, who I thought the obvious choice the first time, but Romney and Gilmore are both solid leaders. Joe Lieberman, mentioned in the comments, would also be an intriguing choice, as would Joe Biden. Appointing a Democrat with strong security credentials would be a smart political gesture.