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Transcript: Tom Ridge Announces His Resignation

It has demonstrated, I think, its maturity in the sense that we have raised the threshold. 

Number one, we haven't raised it nationally for almost a year. We hope we can continue that because the last time we raised it was during the last holiday season, which we're approaching. 

And secondly, this year, we were able because the information drove us to apply it in a selective, surgical way, in a very defined part of our economy, in very specific regions. 

So I think it's a good system. We're always looking for ways to make it better, but, frankly, if there's one agency that errs on the side of divulging more, not less information to the public with regard to the threat, I think that's something that we take pride in. 

I mean, I think America is prepared to deal with the reality in the post-9/11 world. 

RIDGE: I think it's in our best long-term interests to share more information with Americans about the potential threat rather than less. And, hopefully, my successor will err on that side of sharing more rather than less info.

QUESTION: Do you have any plans to go back to Pennsylvania no matter what you do in the future. 

RIDGE: No, no.

Well, first of all, I'm going to be around here for a while, because I've moved my son out of -- my family around a couple times over the past three years, and he still has a couple years left in town. So we're here for a while. 

I had a difficult time in talking to my leadership this morning, I must tell you, because they're an incredible group of people. I mean, you know many of them. 

Some are retired military that took the call of public service. As one individual told me, "We're at war again. I got to come in and help." There were other people who are active military, but decided to come in. 

We've got people from all over the private sector come in. We have moms and dads with young children that still give us 12, 14, 16 hours a day. We've got somebody -- we've got a young woman who's a very talented person who works full-time with us, going to law school at night. 

I mean, we've got an incredible group of people who just stay until the job's done. 

So I told them this morning that next to that discussion, you know, when I called my family in, on a very short notice in September of '01, and said, "By the way, we're going to leave the governor's residence and we're going to move into an apartment, and I'm going to commute for the next year because the president asked me to come to Washington, D.C., to serve in response -- be part of a national effort, part of his administration-wide effort to make our homeland more secure and safer." 

And that's exactly what I did. And I'm grateful for the opportunity. 

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) your own personal decision that you were going to leave now? 

RIDGE: I started thinking much more seriously about it around election time, and November, after the election. I thought about it a little bit before, but serious thought as to when and under what circumstances after the president was re-elected. 

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you say with confidence that measures taken by the Department of Homeland Security have actually prevented attacks? And in how many cases do you think that's true? How many times?

RIDGE: That's one of those questions that I could give you a very confident answer, and you'd say, "Prove it." And I'd (ph) be difficult to prove what I can't necessarily quantify. 

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