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The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege... and How We Can Be Safe Againby Tom Ridge
Synopses & Reviews
When our nation called, Tom Ridge answered. Appointed by the President to head up domestic security, Ridge established the Department of Homeland Security. In this probing and surefooted memoir, Ridge takes us through the challenges he and his new department faced, including Anthrax scares and reports (both real and false alarms) of new Al-Qaeda operations sprouting up in the United States.
A “law and order” Republican who was on the shortlist to be John McCains running mate in 2008, Ridge writes with refreshing candor on both the successes and missteps of the DHS. He details the obstacles faced in his new post—often within the administration itself—as well as the failures of Congress to provide for critical homeland security needs, and the irresponsible use of terrorism by both parties to curry favors with voters. Ridge also reveals:
• How the DHS was pressured to connect homeland security to the international “war on terror”
• How Ridge effectively thwarted a plan to raise the national security alert just before the 2004 Election
• How Ridge had pushed for a plan (defeated because of turf wars) to integrate DHS and FEMA disaster management in New Orleans and other areas before Hurricane Katrina
Finally, Ridge offers a prescriptive look to the future, advocating ways that America may reaffirm its safety—including his provocative support for a national ID card program and for comprehensive immigration reform—without sacrificing personal liberty.
Television captures every word and every expression. I was reasonable to think that our enemies would look for any sign of weakness in the person who in a few days would be responsible for protecting America against them. At that moment, I experienced a royal flush of emotion—after all, I was leaving the state I loved, a loyal staff, many friendships developed over a lifetime, the frustration of work unfinished, to head into the unknown and the undoable. In normal times, I might have shed a tear at such thoughts. But I was determined not to do so as I said my farewell. If I needed any reminding, I glanced down at the note I had written for counsel.
“The bastards are watching.”
We can never guarantee we will be free from another attack. We must also understand that every day thousands and thousands of our fellow citizens work here and abroad to take us to a new level of readiness and security. For in the end, Americans do not live in fear. We live in freedom. And we will let no one take that freedom away.
—Tom Ridge, from THE TEST OF OUR TIMES
IN THE HARROWING DAYS AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, the President of the United States reached out to one man to help guide the nation in its quest to shore up domestic security. In this candid and compelling memoir, Tom Ridge describes the whirlwind series of events that took him from the state capital of Pennsylvania, into the fray of Washington, D.C., and onto the world stage as a new leader in the fight against international terrorism.
A Washington outsider, Ridge went above and beyond in his new post, identifying the need to integrate response teams on a wide-reaching scale and leading the nations ambitious initiative of establishing a new Cabinet department, the Department of Homeland Security. The author recounts how the new departments unsung heroes, brought together under great duress, succeeded against difficult odds and navigated the politics of terrorism.
Perhaps most importantly, Ridge offers a prescriptive look to the future with provocative ideas such as a national ID card and the use of biometrics to track not just who enters the United States but also how long they are here. Tom Ridge simply tells it like it is, offering a refreshingly honest assessment of the state of homeland security today—and what it needs to be tomorrow.
About the Author
The HON. TOM RIDGE became the first secretary of Homeland Security in 2001. The former congressman and governor of Pennsylvania is the president and CEO of Ridge Global, which consults on security, diplomacy, international relations, economic development, and other key issues. Ridge is based on Washington, D.C. LARY BLOOM co-wrote Letters From Nuremberg with Senator Christopher J. Dodd. He has written for The New York Times and Connecticut magazine.
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History and Social Science » Politics » Covert Government and Conspiracy Theory