Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, June 6, 2002. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the Top Story tonight, reaction to the president's speech. Joining us from the White House is Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the new proposal, any comment on Judge Scheindlin?

TOM RIDGE, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, I think you highlighted the notion that in this country, there are rules of evidence. And there's also means for both parties who may disagree with a ruling to go appeal it. And that's exactly what the Justice Department is doing.

O'REILLY: All right, but did this open your eyes when this man got let out of jail?

RIDGE: Well, you know, my eyes have been opened by not only these, but plenty of other things since I've seen since I was sworn in on October 8. And one of the most eye-opening experiences was the need to redress and reorganize government organization in order to deal with a 21st century threat.


O'REILLY: All right, that was a nifty segue, there Mr. Secretary. That was a nifty -- one of the niftiest segues I've seen in quite some time.

RIDGE: Thank you.

O'REILLY: Two issues, I know we only have a you a short time.

RIDGE: Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: All right, border security, OK?

RIDGE: Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: Now you know that Canada has an open situation. They've let in 95 percent of people going for asylum since 9/11, 50 percent of those did not show any ID. How are you going to secure the Canadian border with this kind of an insane immigration policy?

RIDGE: Well, I tell you, Bill, that prior to the president's announcement tonight, the president has had me working with the Canadian officials to deal with the creation of a smart border agreement, dealing with infrastructure, dealing with people, dealing with cargo and addressing the issue you've raised. So, we have been engaged with the appropriate agencies up there, the State Department, INS and Customs and our counterparts, to deal specifically with that issue.

O'REILLY: All right, keep us posted, because if they don't play ball, I'm going to call for a boycott of any tourism going to Canada.

RIDGE: Well, we've made great progress with our friends and neighbors in Canada. And the president had said We need to enhance security, but we also have an extraordinary historic and economic relationship. And again, make a strategic investment up there, that improves our security, but also facilitates...

O'REILLY: All right, but they've got to change their immigration policy, flat out got to change it.

The second thing is that in this proposal, making you a cabinet member, you and your agency would be responsible for intelligence analysis to keep us safe. Are you going to be able to force the FBI and the CIA to give you their intelligence?

RIDGE: I think when the president calls for the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, and as part of that call is that this new department is to be served by the CIA and the FBI, the president's direction and his vision will ensure that this agency will get the benefit, and be a customer of the CIA and the FBI. By the way, there are a lot of other agencies that gather information.

O'REILLY: Sure, but we're worried about them because they're the ones that's screwed up big time.

RIDGE: Well, we'll get them.

O'REILLY: And the INS is the other thing. And if you can do anything with that, Mr. Secretary, you're a genius, and — because that is just outrageous.

Are you for militarizing the border in the border security area? We now have 375 agents covering a 4,000-mile border with Canada. We've already explained the problem we have. They let everybody who wants asylum in. And in Mexico, it's a chaotic mess. Are you for militarizing the border to help the border patrol?

RIDGE: You know, we are — the president in this country does not — we do not want to militarize the border with our friends in Canada and New Mexico (sic), but the president has realized you need traditional technology and additional personnel. That is the reason you're going to see more INS agents, more Customs agents and more border patrol.

O'REILLY: All right. So you're not going to do it with the military, because he was going to move the military up there in support. We haven't heard any more about that, but that was announced.

RIDGE: Bill, we had to move the military up there for a short term. Let me give you a good example, because it kind of explains why we need a department. The INS and the Customs, after 9/11, needed additional personnel. They wanted more people to enhance security. The process of getting more personnel, more military personnel to the border took nearly four months. If we have one agency who's primary responsibility is to work on what the president considers his most important job, protect America and our way of life, we're not going to need four months in order to get the necessary personnel to the border.

O'REILLY: All right. Let's just recap then. You are going to be in charge of border security in the cabinet position? And I know Congress is going to vote this through, by the way. So don't — you'll have that job.

You are going to get all the intelligence, the FBI and CIA has, all right, regarding our safety? You're going to put pressure on Canada to change their insane immigration policy. And if you had — if I were Judge Scheindlin, again, letting this guy out, what would you say to me right tonight, Mr. Secretary?

RIDGE: I would say to you tonight that the president has provided extraordinary leadership. And I think coupled with what I know we're going to see bipartisan leadership in the Congress of the United States, during a period of crisis, we need to ask big and important things from the country. And I think we're going to get that in the form of new department — cabinet-level department of homeland security.

O'REILLY: All right. I — you missed my point there. I wanted you to address Judge Scheindlin, who let this Awadallah out, the guy who met with one of the killers 40 times. I mean, I'm just so upset about this, I can't even talk, you know what I mean?

RIDGE: I detected that at the outset. And — but again, I say to you with tremendous respect, we do have a system in place where now — if the Justice Department feels it was a wrong decision, and obviously they do, because we're a system of laws, because we have an appellate system, we can use the same system that may have given him some protection now, to see if we can reverse it in the future.

O'REILLY: All right.

RIDGE: That's exactly the way America should work.

O'REILLY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. You're welcome any time. And good luck in your new job.

RIDGE: Thank you.

O'REILLY: Right.

RIDGE: Yes, sir.

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