- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001

The popular Republican governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, quit that job yesterday to take office Monday as the nation's first head of homeland security.
And as one policy analyst sees it, the governor is stepping away from a position he loved and did well into "what can best be described as a mess" with a slippery path to success.
Mr. Ridge is assuming the newly created Cabinet-level post of head of the Office of Homeland Security. President Bush has ordered him to "lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that may come."
The pressure on him will be extreme, for even as he was readying for his trip to Washington this week, FBI and CIA officials were telling Congress of new and credible information that terrorists will stage a second attack within the United States. One intelligence official reportedly said there is "a 100 percent chance" of terrorist retaliation if U.S. forces hit Afghanistan.
So far though, it's not clear just how much power Mr. Ridge will command, how big a budget he will have if any or how the new appointee will be able to get his mammoth task accomplished.
Anti-terrorism activities have been fragmented and conducted by leaders within 50 states, responding to the demands and recommendations of 40 often-competing federal agencies, including many within the 14 major departments headed by Mr. Ridge's Cabinet peers.
Rep. Bob Stump, Arizona Republican and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, describes Mr. Ridge's chief challenge laconically.
"Turf battles."
Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that "in this town you have clearly defined lines of authority and staff or you become simply a presidential adviser. It's not clear we need one more adviser.
"Unless Governor Ridge gets the power to help shape programming, planning and budgeting, his office will be a facade," said Mr. Cordesman, who has held senior positions in the Defense, State and Energy departments. "This is particularly true because he has to work with state and local authorities, and coordinate federal efforts in ways that meet state and local needs."
White House officials have said Mr. Ridge will have a staff of about 100 people.
And the Pentagon last week appointed Army Secretary Thomas White to be the Defense Department's top official for homeland security, working closely with Mr. Ridge.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has suggested Mr. Ridge's office will have powers roughly equal to those of the National Security Council. However, a debate has begun over whether that is enough.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, has said he will introduce legislation that would create a Cabinet-level department for homeland defense, and similar proposals are brewing in the House.
Amy E. Smithson, a terrorism specialist with the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonprofit research organization and author of a recent counterterrorism study, said what will matter is policy and his ability to coordinate with local authorities.
"Disaster response is all local. Yet what has happened is that the officials inside the Beltway have gotten it" backwards, she said. "They've set the pyramid on its point."
Counterterrorism money often has been ill-spent as a result, she said.
"Of the more than $8 billion in terrorism-response money spent last year on counterterrorism, only $315 million got to the front line to local firefighters and emergency crews who do the lifesaving. The actual work isn't done by teams from the Pentagon or some other federal office."
Even defining what "success" means for Mr. Ridge is "tricky" because of inherent American vulnerability and the momentary weakness of his office, said Thomas Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
"Mr. Ridge could do a bang-up job, then comes a terrorist attack, for which we remain vulnerable, and he'll take a beating over it," Mr. Mann said.
Mr. Ridge gave his last speech as governor yesterday, addressing a Chamber of Commerce gathering in Philadelphia.

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