Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Wednesday he’d give President Obama a “C” on his national security record, applauding him for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden raid but decrying recent national security leaks that have become a flashpoint on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania who was the first secretary of the new department under President George W. Bush, expressed “supreme and extreme disappointment that, for whatever reason, and regardless of the source, there have been serious, serious security leaks around the bin Laden raid, around the virus involving the Iranian nuclear program, around the doctor we threw under the bus [who] assisted us in getting information.”
“These security leaks, in my judgement, are a national security problem,” he continued on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Other Republicans have charged that sensitive and classified material was deliberately leaked to enhance President Obama’s national security image, and GOP challenger Mitt Romney on Tuesday joined the chorus of critics demanding an independent prosecutor look into who was behind the leaks.
Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod denied Wednesday that the White House had any involvement in such leaks, and that the administration is looking into the reports.
Mr. Ridge, however, said he had to give Mr. Obama credit for the mission that killed bin Laden — while also noting that the military and intelligence infrastructure for the raid had been laid under Mr. Bush.
“I don’t like giving out grades, but a ‘C’ seems appropriate,” he said. “I think we rely on the U.N. extensively, perhaps too much. I’m not quite sure that we’ve developed, over the past 3½ years, the kind of personal relationships with foreign leaders that are essential for this country to work and develop a multilateral response to some of the crises we see in the world today.”
“There’s a level of expectation that America will lead in times of crisis, and there are those who think we’re somewhat introspective these days and self-doubting, and have not really been the kind of leader that the free world looks to when they look to the president of the United States,” he added.