- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2016

Terror attacks on the United States are an inevitability but Americans shouldn’t allow the threat to alter their daily lives, said former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in an assessment of the nation’s safety.

“The threat surface has changed, the number of actors has increased, the profile of those actors is significantly different from what it was Sept. 10, 2001,” Mr. Ridge said Thursday at a forum in D.C. hosted by The Atlantic. “There is an inevitability to the attacks. If you take a look at what has happened in France over the past six months, there is a variety of means by which they can inflict their damage.”

But he said Americans should consider the likelihood of an attack in the broader context of the types of dangers they routinely encounter every day, noting that there are approximately 40,000 traffic fatalities every year.

“After 15 years of reflection what I really think the county needs to do is accept the reality that it is a global scourge, accept the reality that it will probably happen again here,” Mr. Ridge said. “We have no idea how many times, there is no way to predict it. But put it in the context of everything else that happens to impact our lives in a very negative way in this country.”

The nation’s first secretary of Homeland Security, who served from 2003 to 2005, said there are still security gaps that need to be fixed, but by and large, 15 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks Americans are “safer now than we’ve ever been.”

“I’m not trying to say the pain and suffering of a terrorist attack isn’t significant, isn’t real. It is,” he said. “But I want America to dial down some of the hyperbole and the hyperventilation. I don’t want us to be breathless about this.”

Speaking alongside Mr. Ridge, current Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson noted the symbolism of the federal government’s return to One World Trade Center in New York, which will be commemorated in an event Friday.

“We are a remarkably resilient country in ways we don’t always appreciate,” Mr. Johnson said.

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