The Test of our Times:
America Under Siege...And How We Can Be Safe Again, by Gov. Tom Ridge
(Click for Amazon book review)
OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:
My attitude towards this book is summed up by my visceral response to Tom Ridge's statement on p. 109: "Who knew there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world living in over 50 countries?" Tom Ridge did not know that. Most people still do not know that. But why would Pres. Bush appoint someone who didn't know that to be in charge of the U. S. government's defense against Muslim extremism? This entire book is a study in how a nice guy was put into a position for which he was utterly unqualified.
That passage is part of Ridge's explanation of how, upon appointment as head of Homeland Security, he had to undergo a crash course in understanding Islam, Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, and Muslim extremism. This book says, loud and clear, that he is still a novice. It's understandable that a governor of Pennsylvania would not know that stuff. It is not understandable why he would accept a foreign policy position -- or why Bush would appoint him -- when he did not know that stuff. And most importantly, it colors everything else that he says in this book, and everything else that he did as Secretary of Homeland Security. The DHS was set up by someone who had barely just learned about our primary enemy. That does not seem like a wise course of action.
Why wasn't someone appointed to that position who DID know this stuff? And who knew it BEFORE 9-11? I knew it, before 9-11 -- because I have a third-world-oriented master's degree. I'm not unique -- there are many thousands of people who knew more than me. They hang around Washington and, until 9-11, were not considered very important. They populate the Foreign Service Officer corps and similar obscure jobs, and they have politics ranging from far left to far right. One of those many thousands should have been appointed instead of Tom Ridge.
When I look at the results that DHS has implemented over the years, I blame Tom Ridge, and I blame Pres. Bush for appointing someone so inappropriate. Do we really need "orange alert" levels? Is snooping around our library book selections really relevant to the war on terror? Is it sane to define the world as "them against us"? Why do we need military bases in Saudi Arabia when that is the source of so much Arab anger against America? Those policies were designed by people who did not understand our enemy in the war on terror. Like Tom Ridge. And we will all suffer the consequences of those policies for many years to come.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, Sept. 2011
| OnTheIssues.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy|
Tom Ridge: Invest in strong economy, for solid international alliances.
Energy & Oil|
Tom Ridge: Comprehensive energy policy including nuclear & clean coal.
Tom Ridge: Regional DHS office would have decreased Katrina damage.
Tom Ridge: UNICEF is ok, but the rest of the UN is ineffective.
Tom Ridge: Closing borders post-9-11 dealt a crushing blow to trade.
Tom Ridge: Increase global connections, even for small business.
George W. Bush: Declined Congressional subpoena for White House advisers.
Tom Ridge: Replace "need to know" culture with "need to share".
Barack Obama: Promises to close Guantanamo & treat prisoners as POWs.
Bill Clinton: Warned public in 1990s that anthrax threat was coming.
Charles Schumer: No Dubai Ports Deal; Arab Emirates funded 9-11.
Colin Powell: 2001: Strongly objected to tracking who enters country.
Donald Rumsfeld: 2004 "snowflake": keep terrorism alive as an issue.
George W. Bush: 2001: We will not tire,we will not falter & we will not fail.
George W. Bush: Created DHS; reorganization since 1947 creation of DoD.
George W. Bush: Terrorists aren't POWs, so not entitled to Geneva Convention.
Jim Gilmore: Pre-9-11, Congress sensed terrorism was a rising threat.
John Ashcroft: Introduced 5-color terror alert system in 2002.
John Ashcroft: 2003: Be on the lookout for "Azzam the American".
Mike Bloomberg: New York was 49th lowest per-capita in post-9-11 DHS grants.
Newt Gingrich: Post-9/11, it's terrorism vs. civilization.
Peter King: Don't treat Dubai Ports Deal in a pre-9-11 way.
Robert Byrd: Required public disclosure of where DHS money is going.
Ted Kennedy: Stopped at airport gates; established TSA ombudsman.
Tom Ridge: 9/11 reaction: We will find those responsible.
Tom Ridge: 2001: Nation was not equipped to deal with bioterrorism.
Tom Ridge: Governors must show up at disaster locations.
Tom Ridge: Nobody knew about Al Qaeda or radical Islam until 9/11.
Tom Ridge: Post-9-11 goal: tell Americans specifics about threats.
Tom Ridge: Duct Tape Debacle: public mocked our "Ready Campaign".
Tom Ridge: Reinterpreting FISA secretly seems like unauthorized power.
Tom Ridge: Threat advisory system: not politically told "Go to orange".
Tom Ridge: Guantanamo holds theological zealots, not POWs.
Tom Ridge: No Orwellian oppression, but inconveniences are ok.
Tom Ridge: OpEd: Diverted attention to terrorism for political gain.
Tom Ridge: Overcome barriers between CIA and FBI.
Tom Ridge: We will never celebrate a Victory over Terrorism Day.
Tommy Thompson: Pre-9-11: confident we could react to bioterrorism.
Tom Ridge: INS is ineffective; US policy is confused.
Tom Ridge: New visa interview policy unwisely restricts immigration.
Tom Ridge: No amnesty, but a path to legitimate law-abiding aliens.
Max Cleland: Opposed DHS hiring practices; use civil service rules.
Phil Gramm: More national security; labor unions and Dems block it.
Principles & Values|
Mark Schweiker: Oct. 2001: Became governor when Tom Ridge entered Cabinet.
Saxby Chambliss: 2002: Attacked war-hero opponent as unpatriotic, and won.
George W. Bush: Oath of office authorizes use of surveillance technology.
Tom Ridge: Install biometric checks at 150 international airports.
War & Peace|
Ronald Reagan: Supported Saddam in Iraq against Iran.
Tom Ridge: Bin Laden is a master of disguises who moves almost daily.
Tom Ridge: Who knew there are 1.3 billion Muslims in 50 countries?
Tom Ridge: Traditional hardware of war obsolete against terrorists.
Tom Ridge: Woefully deficient in human intelligence in war on terror.
Tom Ridge: Iraq invasion made us less safe in the short run.
Tom Ridge: Saddam did have WMDs, but no relationship with al Qaeda.
Tom Ridge: Iraqi invasion justified to overthrow a despot.
The above quotations are from The Test of our Times:
America Under Siege...And How We Can Be Safe Again, by Gov. Tom Ridge.
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- Earlier election analyses