Citing the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Ridge said it isn’t enough for the U.S. to kill the man, it has to bury his jihadist ideology. “As long it has appeal to even the smallest number of individuals within the broader Muslim community of a billion-plus, the global scourge of terrorism will be with us.”
During this struggle, Ridge stressed that homeland security is a collective responsibility, but acknowledged that the government must do a better job partnering with the business community. “I think we’ve done a good job of coordinating our efforts, but not a great job,” he said. “I think we can do better.”
Ridge elaborated by stating that the private sector deserves a seat at the table: “more involved in the planning stages, not less; more involved in the response and recovery stages, not less.”
After Ridge’s address, the current homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce became the latest participant to sign on to the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, which asks businesses and citizens to report suspicious activities to local authorities.
“These efforts when somebody has seen something and said something have actually helped prevent crime and terrorism,” Napolitano said, noting suspicious activity reports recently disrupted a white supremacist attack on a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Washington, last January as well as prevented what could have been another attack on Fort Hood by an alleged jihadi U.S. soldier.
During her speech, the homeland security chief also screened the department’s new public service announcements for “See Something, Say Something,” which will begin airing on radio and television stations across the country.
“It’s a very simple and effective message; a very simple and effective program,” she said.
♦ Photo of former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.