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Hannity

Tom Ridge On London Terror Attacks

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 7, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Sean Hannity.

We are continuing our special coverage of today's terrorist attacks in London. Joining us now, the former secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.

TOM RIDGE, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Good evening.

HANNITY: Welcome back, Mr. Secretary.

RIDGE: Nice to be back with you.

HANNITY: I understand, you had just flown in this morning from London, correct?

RIDGE: Yes. It's a remarkable turnaround. The world's been turned upside-down. Yesterday, they were dancing in the streets, the excitement, the euphoria about being awarded the Olympics in 2012. And they wake up the next morning. You have this series of well-coordinated, simultaneous bombings that literally has tore the underground and that bus completely apart.

HANNITY: You know as well as anybody the real nature of this insidious evil and of this threat — and our hearts go out to our friends and our allies, the British today. But we know this is — we know their plan. We know that this is their M.O. right?

RIDGE: That's right. I mean, with our British friends and allies, we know we have no stronger, better, or more loyal group of allies than the British citizens. We kneel with them in prayer, and we stand with them in solidarity. And hopefully, this will generate a little greater participation and involvement through the rest of the European community.

HANNITY: Is this a reawakening? Have we gotten so far away from 9/11 that too many of our citizens are forgetting? Look at how the president is under attack for, I believe, just waking up every morning, remembering what happened here on 9/11? Are too many people forgetting?

RIDGE: Well, I don't think so. I will tell you who has not forgotten. As a matter of fact, I think their intensity level today is as high as it was on September 12, 2001. And that's your law enforcement personnel, your first responders, and the men and women in charge of the security of our country at the federal, state, and local level, I think, are as intensely committed to doing more, and doing better, and being smarter about how we prevent these attacks and prepare for an attack as they were the day after 9/11.

HANNITY: Are there areas — and you and I have gone over this — and I know the good work that you did at Homeland Security. And you and I have talked about borders. And we've talked about putting Predator drones. Is there any area where we need to redouble our efforts, a need to be more vigilant, in light of the renewed knowledge of what is out there, this unmatched fanaticism?

RIDGE: Well, you know, I think it'll be interesting. Again, you have got forensic evidence that has to be gathered. This is a city that has quite a few surveillance cameras. You're going to have eyewitness reports.

I think there may very well be some lessons learned that we can apply to our own mass transit system. But I think, again, there are many fronts, that you confront many different dimensions to the war on terror. There's a military front. There's a public diplomacy front.

There's a continuing effort to get other allies who are disengaged, particularly in Iraq, become more engaged and maybe this is a wake-up call to them, certainly not to us, certainly not to the British, and every single day you try to embed more and more security and preventive measures in our country.

HANNITY: Well, this may also put into the minds and hearts of people why it's so important that, if we have enemy combatants, people taken off the battlefield, why it's so important that we've got to use strong tactics, not torture, strong tactics, to extract information that may save lives and prevent future attacks, correct?

RIDGE: Well, I think it's pretty clear that we've generated information from individuals we have detained, as well as individuals that other countries have detained, that we've shared with our allies in this war against terror, that have been very, very helpful.

I think the bottom line — and I listened to the commissioner say it before — at the heart of defeating the enemy is more information and more intelligence. And the more we learn about who they are, where they are, how they operate, it gives us an even greater chance to interdict and prevent something from happening. So you have an offensive dimension and you certainly have a defensive dimension to it, as well.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Secretary Ridge, it's Alan Colmes. Welcome back to our show once again.

We're hearing that there's code orange now for mass transit in this country. What does that mean? How does the consumer of mass transit interpret that?

RIDGE: Well, you should interpret it the following way. Since 9/11, the federal government has developed a communications system with the public transportation community, the mass transit community, unlike anything that existed before 9/11. They're constantly sharing information, best practices, and lessons learned, both domestic and overseas.

And what it means to the average commuter is that when we go to — when the secretary said that we're going to go to orange, there will be more additional security preventive measures in place, maybe more uniformed police, more un-uniformed police, more canine teams, more dogs, maybe more random checks. But it simply means, when you go from one level to the next, that you're going to step up your preventive and security measures.

COLMES: Well, we don't tell people, "Don't take public transportation." We don't tell them to change your activities in any way.

RIDGE: You know, we tell them we're not going to let the terrorists change how we live our lives. We tell them that we understand what transpired in Madrid and London, and the impact of that horror on the world. And we've responded to it by adding additional security in our mass transportation system.

But we also tell them one of the reasons we go up is just to encourage them to be more vigilant. We don't know today whether or not these bombs were exploded by these murder-bombers or whether a package or it's a suitcase laden with explosives. But there's been a public awareness campaign throughout the public transportation system that the people see unattended luggage, unattended baggage, unattended packages, they should report it immediately to a security guard.

COLMES: When you hear the name of this group, the Secret Organization of Al Qaeda in Europe, does that mean anything to you?

RIDGE: It does not. And again, I suspect there be a lot of people — maybe some exchanges on the Internet where different organizations are taking credit for it. But certainly, in terms of the tactics, the target, and the coordination of this activity, very reminiscent of the attack in Madrid, the connection to al Qaeda.

One of the interesting things — one of the important things for to us to learn from this attack is whether or not the individuals responsible were part of an indigenous sleeper cell. Were they British citizens? Were they there legally as immigrants? Or were they foreign terrorists who managed to get across the border either lawfully or unlawfully?

HANNITY: Thanks for being with us, Secretary Ridge. Appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

RIDGE: Thank you.

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