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Office of the Press Secretary

Internal Transcript August 26, 2002


Governor Ridge's Office

9:50 A.M. EDT

Q Governor Ridge, I'd like to start by asking you,

is the homeland more secure today than it was a year ago --
the airports, the nuclear plants, all of the other places
that we fear as targets?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Since September llth of last year,

we've made enormous progress. So I could report to you
today that we are safer, we are better prepared,
absolutely, but we certainly have more work to do. But
America and Americans have made great progress in securing
the homeland since the unfortunate -- horrific events of

Q Could a terrorist or group of terrorists pull off

the same thing that happened to us then?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: I believe that the work that the

airline industry has done, the Congress has done, that
individual citizens have done, the enhanced security at all
levels, at our airports, in our airplanes, we've got more
people screening baggage and people, we've got air
marshals, we've got -- we've rethought how we train flight
crews. And I might add, I think now every able bodied man
and woman is an air marshal. And I think the Flight 93
response is something that any terrorist could anticipate
at well. America is prepared to defend itself.



Q Were expectations raised too much by the

proclamation, wanted dead or alive?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: No, I think the President very

appropriately articulated what America felt and what our
allies felt. He perpetrated on this country the most
extraordinary catastrophic horror that we've ever
experienced internally. That's exactly the way we won.
But the fact of the matter remains is, even if we bring him
to justice, we still have work to do. We'll still have
additional threats to our future from either followers of
bin Laden or other forms of international terrorism. And
it's our job to be mindful of that, to accept that it's an
enduring vulnerability, and work to do our very best to
prevent it from happening again.



Q I'd like to take you back to Septeinber llth of

last year, particularly your home state and how you went to
Shanksville. What were your emotions at the time? And how
have you counseled your family and friends? You know more
about the threat probably than anybody in the whole
country, except the President himself.
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Like every American, I remember
exactly what I was doing when I learned of the first
attack. I know exactly where I was. It's a day -- that
day is etched in everybody's minds and in everybody's
heart. And later that afternoon, once I got clearance to
fly back to the state capital, to bring my emergency
management people together, to make sure we had done
everything we could in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
and then took a helicopter to Shanksville and Somerset
County, I suspect that the range of emotions that I felt
were again reflective of how America felt. There was
anger, there was bitterness, there was a sense of
But at the same time, after we learned what happened -
- we had a sense of what happened with Flight 93, and you
saw how America responded that day, you learned about
people rushing into burning buildings in the twin towers,
and you heard immediately the stories of people going from
the Pentagon, from a safe part of the Pentagon, rushing to
the area that had been struck by the airplane, to save
their colleagues and comrades. And then you saw how the
people of Shanksville responded so quickly.
So as a governor of a state, I saw my state respond,
both in Somerset County - - w e had a SERT team - - a search
and emergency rescue team -- in New York by midnight. But
then again, as a father, and as a husband, it was -- as it

was for all Americans -- a very difficult and challenging


GOVERNOR RIDGE: This new enemy of the 21st century is

far, far different than anything that we've ever confronted
on a traditional battle field. This is a war -- and I
think the President has appropriate described our
engagement internationally against terrorism as a war -- is
against an enemy that doesn't distinguish between soldiers
and non-combatants, between soldiers and citizens. This is

an enemy that doesn't use the traditional weapons of war.
This an enemy that took commercial airliners and turned
them into missiles. This is an enemy whose strategy and
tactics are entirely different, and they've chosen America
as the battle field. This is a war that does not lend
itself to a daily press briefing. This is a war that will
require America to provide for the common defense



GOVERNOR RIDGE: I don't believe this country is ever

going to need to do anything to remind its citizens, either
today, tomorrow or in perpetuity of the significance of
September llth. I think it will always be in the hearts of
people, in the minds of people, a national day of mourning.
As we look back, in a sense, because of a national day of
celebration, because although it changed America
permanently, as we witness what happened in response to
9/11, we saw that certain qualities, certain
characteristics of America are unchanging. The character,
the courage and the commitment of the country remains and
is often brought to the fore when we are challenged in
times of crisis and emergency. I don't necessarily think
we need a national holiday to celebrate, to remember, to
mourn and to be cognizant of what happened to us as a
country on that day.

Q Is it a memorial day of this generation though?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Clearly. I don't think there's any
doubt about it. It's a memorial day, it's also a reminder
of the new world in which we live, and a call to action for
the foreseeable future, in order to make sure, again, that
the children and grandchildren that we speak so much of,
and who are very much a part of America's future, are given
maximum kinds of protection and security, so they can enjoy
the promise and the hope and the opportunity of this

Q Governor Ridge, thank you for joining us for this

special CBS News coverage on September llth.

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Peter, it's good to join you. Thank

you very much.

END 10:07 A . M . EOT

Office of the Press Secretary

Internal Transcript August 26, 2002


The Roosevelt Room

11:40 A.M. EOT

Q Governor Ridge, how much has been accomplished in

the last year? Are we safer now than we were on September
llth, a year ago?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: I think America is considerably

safer. I think we are much better prepared. But I don't
think there's any question that there is considerably more
work that needs to be done.

Q Are we 25 percent of the way there, 50 percent of

the way there, 75 percent?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: It's different to actually quantify

it. I think qualitatively, one of the things the President
asked us to do in this new office was to change the way
both the public and the private sector thought about
combatting terrorism and then to act on that change.

And so I think we're doing things differently at the

airports, doing things differently at the borders, doing
things differently, and changing how we're doing things at
the INS. And the list goes on and on.

So I think we've effected change. But I think the

challenge for this administration, but for future
administrations and future Congresses and the country in
the future is to continue to improve the system, to protect
yourself and your way of life. They'll never be all the
way there.

Q One of the things that -- going back and looking
at some of the things that we had done stories on a year
ago, after the terrorist attack, there has been a lot of
legislation passed, there's been a lot of funding
appropriated, there have been a lot of people hired. But
it still seems as though there are many areas that are
still untouched. What comes to mind, no entry-exit system
for visas, no -- many of the airports are way behind
schedule in terms of federalizing screeners. Why does it
take so long to do some of these things?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Well, first of all, we have to

recognize that this is a big country, a diverse country, a
freedom loving country, that we have many points of access.
We literally allow hundreds of millions of people to come
in and go out of our country on an annual basis, that we
are a federal country, that the federal government can't
just dictate, that we have other levels of jurisdiction
that we have to develop strategic partnerships with.

And I think if you measure the progress, given the

complexity and the size of this country, we have come a
long way. Clearly, the entry-exit system -- the President
has said time and time again, Americans need to know who's
coming into the country, why they're coming into the
country, and when their time -- it's time to leave, there
has to be a system that assures that they leave. That's a
very high priority for Congress, a very high priority for
the President. I think we'll get that done in the next
couple of years.

But the technology of that will take several years to

ramp up. You're talking about enhanced security at the
airports, we're doing a better job there. But clearly, we
still don't have everybody deployed as an air marshal, we
haven't hired everybody as a screener, we still don't have
all the equipment, the technology in our airports. And
certain things you just can't do, even though Congress says
you have to do it by a certain period of time. Physically,
Secretary Mineta and Adrmiral Loy are going to do
everything they can to comply with those requirements. But
as we pointed out, as some of the airport directors have
pointed out, some it calls to reconfigure the whole
airport, how they accept people, how they accept baggage.
But everybody is working as hard as they possibly can to
meet those deadlines.



Q Should Americans stay at home on September llth,

or should they get on airplanes, should they travel at all?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: I think that September llth is a day

of recollection, it's a day of mourning, it's a day of --
and I say this understanding that while we mourn and
grieve, the loss and the death and the destruction of that
date, there's much to celebrate as to how America responded
on that day, and subsequent days, that September llth
should remind us of as well. We were changed forever,

But in response to that horror, in response to that

catastrophic terrorist event, we saw the best of America.
We saw our courage, we saw our commitment, we saw people
rushing into burning buildings, rushing into the Pentagon,
wrestling the attackers of Flight 93. We saw the country
rally around the President, support our troops. Overseas
we saw individual citizens and people at all levels of
government, in the private sector, rethink about the
relationship to one another, and do things differently to
protect themselves and the homeland.

So T think America on that day should continue to

mourn, be mindful that this is also a day and a crisis that
which the best qualities and attributes of America have
been revealed.



And we don't know what the number is. We know

thousands and thousands went through those training camps.
We know that the planning for the 9/11 incident took years.
We've seen, from some of the recent films that were
obtained that they plan. And this is an operation that has
targeted the United States and our way of life, and I think
we need to be prepared for all eventualities, for all time.


Q Now, you spent the better part of a year, and
along with the administration, saying we didn't need a
department of homeland security at the Cabinet level. Why
did you change your mind?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: We spent the better part of a year

working on borders, working on transportation, working on
reform -- on visa reform and INS reform, and doing a lot of
other things. We've been reaching out and working with
governors and their homeland security advisors.

But I recall the President saying to the members of

Congress, -- again, both Republicans and Democrats -- who
were calling for a new department in October, when he
brought them down to the White House, "give this
administration some time to do the things we need to do
immediately, and to take a look at whether or not we need
to reorganize government." He never said never, he just
requested -- and I requested time and time again -- give us
a chance to do our own -- take our own internal look, talk
to the people out there, talk to you, and then we're going
to give you -- if we think something needs to be done,
we'll come up and tell you about it. And we've got a very
robust, a very aggressive and a very comprehensive approach
in the new department of homeland security, building on
some of the initiatives that they had talked about. But
frankly, if you take a look at the new department, or the
department the President has recommended, it's a
significant -- there are significant enhancements to it, as





GOVERNOR RIDGE: The President believes and the group

that put together the department of homeland security and
made the recommendation to Congress believes that the FBI
has been and must continue to be the chief law enforcement
investigative agency in this country, and as such, must
continue to be an integral part of the Department of

I think clearly their mission has been expanded since

9/11. Director Mueller is working feverishly and
tirelessly to kind of reorient part of the FBI toward
preemption -- identification and preemption of terrorist
activity. And I think the administration appropriately
wants this agency to continue to report to -- through the
Department of Justice to the President of the United





Q Do we know more about the enemy now than we did a

year ago?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Absolutely. We know through
interrogation, we know through the great work of the
Department of Defense, the information they picked up in
the safe houses, they picked up on the battle field, we
know because of the collaboration and support we received
from some of our international partners, the interrogations
that they have done, the information they've secured, we
know a great deal more about this group than we've ever
known before. And I suspect that as our information
gathering continues to improve, as our very successful
military operation expands its reach, we will learn more
and more about the enemies -- our enemies.

Q One of the things that has proven to be extremely

difficult, and one most people would agree one of the
biggest vulnerabilities was our immigration system. The
fact that there are in fact -- the fact that thousands of
people got into the country, and maybe left and maybe
didn't leave. This whole notion of sleeper agents, and
people already here.

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Well, I think that's a -- if I could

say it in retrospect, that was a reflection of how
Americans -- to look at the rest of the world, we're kind
of open. You can come into this country a couple hundred
different ways, through airports, and obviously you've got
95,000 miles of coastline, you've got 5,000 miles with
Canada, and 2,000 miles with Mexico. We're a trusting
country. I mean, we're a country of immigrants. So the
notion that you've got people from foreign countries coming
in to visit, to go to school, to do business, we just
accepted that as part of who we are, and what we wanted to

And we still want to be the country that's open and

welcoming and trusting. But we now know that we have to do
a much better job of granting those visas, of monitoring
conduct of people who we want to come to this country, and
making sure that once their time is expired, we have a way
to make sure that they either reapply or they leave as
promised. They are guests, and we want to continue to be
open to guests for a lot of reasons.

END 12:10 P . M . EOT


Office of the Press Secretary

Internal Transcript August 26, 2002


Governor Ridge's Office

12:15 P.M. EDT

Q There are some images, sounds and memories of

September llth, 2001, that chill people to the bone even a
year later. How can you reassure Americans when they think
back on all the horrors of September llth, last year?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Well, I think we all remember

visually, and we still all hear those sounds. And it is in
fact that memory, that collective memory as a country that
I think has driven us to make great progress, working
together at the federal level, state and local level,
working with the private sector, to take action to make
sure that it doesn't happen again, or at least to reduce
our vulnerability, to reduce the likelihood that it could
ever happen again.

I think that's part of the job that we have. And

since I get a chance to see America at 30,000 feet, I mean
I get a chance to see what they're doing at the local
level, what they're doing at the state level, I get a
chance to see what the private companies are doing, I get
the chance to see all the interaction, talk to the first-
responders, talk to the law enforcement community, see the
enhanced information and intelligence sharing we have at
the federal level. And I think what has driven this
action, what has driven this collaboration, what's driven
these partnerships are the fact that the sights and sounds
that you referred to remind us that we're no longer immune
to international terrorism.




Q When one looks back on all that happened on

September llth last year, there's a sense that really
nothing can be done to stop terrorism. Can it be stopped,
can we feel safe?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: For those who say nothing can be done

to stop terrorism, I just would just disagree with every
possible conviction that I can muster. We have done a lot.
We are going to do more. The real challenge is, I think,
is accepting the fact that in this huge, massive country,
that lets in hundreds of millions of people from around the
world, that is a very complex and sophisticated country, a
welcoming country, an open country, but we'll never be able
to design, absolutely, a perfect, fail-safe system that we
can guarantee safety against all potential terrorist
attacks. We can't do that. But we certainly can, and
have, and will continue to significantly improve our
ability to prevent and interdict, as well as respond to an
attack if one occurs.


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Q Are the FBI and CIA working together in ways that

they weren't working before September llth? Could they
have worked together better, and maybe prevented what we
saw on September llth?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: My frame of reference and

relationship -- working relationship with these agencies is
post 9/11, beginning on October 8th. And I see on a daily
basis, because we participate in a briefing with the
President, the kind of information sharing and
collaborative intelligence efforts that I think should
comfort the people of this country. What went on prior to
9/11, I do not know. All I know is that the principals,
George Tenet and Bob Mueller, share that information. When
we've gone back in this office to ask for additional
information, we received it without hesitation.


Q And one more question. Should Americans feel

safe, or should we feel like targets?

GOVERNOR RIDGE: Well, we know as of 9/11 that al

Qaeda and the terrorists have targeted this country because
of who we are and what we stand for and what we believe,
what we've done, what we've accomplished. But they should
know that since 9/11 that we are unquestionably safer, that
we are by leaps and bounds much better prepared, and yet we
still have a considerable distance to go to do everything
we can in human terms and technologically to protect our
way of life and our fellow citizens. But we've made great
progress, I see it every single day.

Q Thank you very much for taking the time to talk

with us.

GOVERNOR RIDGE: My great pleasure.

12:33 P.M. EOT

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