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Last Updated

18 Nov 2002

Source: Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2002.


Ridge Suggests Likely Effects Of Homeland-Security Campaign


NEW ORLEANS -- A national homeland-security plan will take years to implement and require privacy tradeoffs to safeguard the country against another terrorist attack, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said.

In a speech before newspaper publishers here, Mr. Ridge said the government may require fingerprints or photo IDs of people who receive smart passes to travel through fast lanes at border crossings. Web sites with information about nuclear plants may be protected by new passwords, and applicants for crop dusting training may have to give the government a lot more information about who they are.

"The right to remain anonymous must be balanced against with the right to remain safe," the former Pennsylvania governor told the group.

The speech marked the glimpse into the drafting of a national homeland-security strategy, a plan that is due to be delivered to President Bush this summer.

As time passes after the Sept. 11 attacks, the risk for America hasn't diminished, in fact it may be higher, Mr. Ridge said. Americans would be foolhardy to believe only 20 terrorists crossed into the U.S. to carry out the attacks in Washington and New York. "We've got to believe there are more here," he said.

Go to Aftermath of Terror

While Mr. Ridge said that the search for the person responsible for the anthrax assault remains domestically oriented, the administration harbors great fear of an attack by using a "dirty bomb," a conventional explosive rigged to contaminate a wide area with radioactive materials on detonation. He said the administration is focusing on ways to prevent access to materials to build such a bomb.

Since his appointment in September, Mr. Ridge said his office has conducted an extensive inventory of the nation's vulnerabilities. His review has included all levels of government, and the private sector, which he said owns 90% of the pipeline, power plants, and other critical infrastructure that could be targets for another attack.