November 5th, 2008
04:01 PM ET
6 years ago

Chertoff warns of transition 'vulnerability'

Chertoff urges Americans to remain alert.
Chertoff urges Americans to remain alert.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Fears that terrorists might strike in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential elections never came to pass. But the nation's homeland security chief said Wednesday the country needs to remain vigilant during the presidential transition.

"Any time there's a transition there's a danger or a risk that vulnerability (to terror attacks) will increase because people become distracted. People are leaving; people are coming in - and that's a disruptive process for any organization," Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff said.

"For that reason, we need to take special pains to make sure that we are very focused on the security of this country from now - in fact, from a month ago or two months ago - through the first half, let's say, of 2009," he said.

Chertoff and others have pointed to terror attacks in Glasgow and Madrid, both of which occurred during transfers of power, as evidence that terrorists time attacks to influence elections

"This is not a statement that there's some imminent threat out there," Chertoff said. "It is a recognition of the human reality that in a changing environment, you have to be extra careful to make sure that you don't lose focus on something like homeland security."

He congratulated President-elect Barack Obama for a "masterly, well-run campaign," and Sen. John McCain, saying McCain's "entire career of public service remains an inspiration to everyone in this country."

He said the Department of Homeland Security has prepared briefing books for Obama's transition team, and has trained top civil service employees so they can help manage the department until Obama appointees are situated.

Chertoff said the department expects to start briefing Obama transition officials within a couple of days, and he expects to meet with his successor about "some of the experiences I've had and the issues that I've seen."

In addition, Chertoff said, "It's my hope ... that the new folks coming into leadership positions will sit with us either late this year or early next year to go through some kind of a tabletop instructional course on incident management, so that if something would happen in the month or two after the new
president gets on board that they'd be as prepared as they reasonably can be based on training.

"So I think we've got a good plan in place."

Chertoff said he plans on staying in office until the January 20 transfer of power, and he does not know what he will do thereafter.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. John

    So you disgruntled McPains in the butt are so dedicated to putting Country First that you're willing to sabotage America to save face? Hmmm…guess we should stay away from Oklahoma City, just in case you Palin "patriots" decide to show your contempt of our "terrorist" president by committing terrorism. This isn't a football game. You can take off your foam fingers and perhaps try to contribute to America, instead of your constipated, distorted Trinity Network version of it.

    November 5, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. C

    Kathy said, "We have no national security with Obama in charge. He's probably plotting with the ones who financed his campaign already. Hope you all like what you asked for"

    HAHA. The current guy in office made sure that we don't have national security. I bet you really liked what you asked for in Bush too....LMAO

    November 5, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. Steve in San Diego

    P.S. When I ran way, way back for president in the 6th grade, I was told by the principal and teachers that I had the best campaign speech, but I lost to a student that promished "soft drinks in the drinking fountain, and no homework". Sound like anybody elected president? By the way, we still had plain water and much homework.

    November 5, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. trevor

    why you guys dont shut up and leave mr.obama alone.he is going to do a good job and further more he was elected not selected so just shut up plz and get with the programme.

    November 5, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  5. the snarly old hawk squawks in fellowship square

    While diligence is needed at all times,I think the paranoia over an
    imminent attack can be put to rest.Just because of the election yesterday,there is no reason to think that anything untoward is about to take place.The government doesn't even change hands until the new year.And as much as Bush keeping the country safe since 9/11,
    hey,there only had to be one to set the agenda rolling.Think about it.

    November 5, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. Ken

    Jeff and Carole......more fear and smear-mongering. You are pathetic examples of Americans, clinging to your rightwing bitterness. From your posts it is evident that you couldn't think your way out of a paper bag. Thank God America finally rejected you and your ilk yesterday. And by all means, I'm rejecting you today. Slither back under your rock before something falls you.

    November 5, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  7. Robert Wooller Bradford West Yorkshire England

    This win for Barack Obama, Democrats and the rest of Americans and the World is absolutely brilliant. I sat last night at my home in Yorkshire in England glued to the television watching the brilliant coverage of the 2008 election. It is a dream come true, especially after waiting eight long years and 2 disappointments. Obama is a brilliant man. People like him only come once every century and he has done something really amazing for black people and the Left and Centre in general. He has his work cut out but I think things will really improve these next few years. The economy will get sorted and so too will global warming and we will win the war on terror. So here is to the next four years!!!

    November 5, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  8. Caramel

    Fortunately, it is ALWAYS people of color who open doors as oppose to those who have sought to close them. Whether Independent, Democrat or Republican, the time for a mental/emotional shift is now. If you are not for change then, you are against the wave of harmony that must come to our shores. It is imperative that we do this now. Oppresive and Antiquated thinking cannot exist any longer.

    Lastly, the beautiful landscape of America has seen a texture woven together by people of various cultures and nationalities. This is America! Start treating it and its people with respect. This divisive, contemptuous behavior to divide cannot continue to exist. Just STOP you negative banter and fight for unity! The time is now!

    November 5, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. Amy

    How can you elect someone who does not salute the flag and wants to change the national anthem. That is a slap in the face to every man and woman who have fought to keep this country free.
    This country is now going to be a safe haven for terrorits because our new President elect is friends with the people who fund these criminals.
    There is a reason he is going to be staying out of sight for the next couple of days...

    November 5, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. Stop the hate

    I have read many of the replies here to this article and it saddens me to know how angry some can be. I knew that the right wing media dishes up plenty of hate but I didn't realize how many relished in its taste.
    Do the famous words like "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" and "ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country" mean anything? We, you and I are the new America!!

    Let go of the old partisan politics people, give this opportunity of change to a young energetic intelligent man. I know it is hard to believe that peace, prosperity, responsibility, accountability, transparency and security will come through our government. I ask this question how can it happen without that belief?
    President elect Obama is not a my way or the highway president he is a our way is the highway kind of leader.

    Time to believe!!! Obama all the way!!!

    November 5, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. Charles

    Patrick writes (November 5th, 2008 5:43 pm ET), "I hope everyone can and will give Bush credit for not letting there be another attack on the United States after 9/11." If Bush and Cheney had been doing there jobs and LISTENING to the INTEL coming across there desks, there never should have been a 9/11. Bush 43 and company are responsible for more American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the untold number of Iraqi and Afghani deaths) than perished on 9/11. Good riddance.

    November 5, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. Caramel

    Fortunately, it is ALWAYS people of color who open doors as oppose to those who have sought to close them. Whether Independent, Democrat or Republican, the time for a mental/emotional shift is now. If you are not for change then, you are against the wave of harmony that must come to our shores. It is imperative that we do this now. Oppresive and Antiquated thinking cannot exist any longer.

    Lastly, the beautiful landscape of America has seen a texture woven together by people of various cultures and nationalities. This is America! Start treating it and its people with respect. This divisive, contemptuous behavior to divide cannot continue to exist. Just STOP your negative banter and fight for unity! The time is now!

    November 5, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. Sara from Arizona

    More fear mongering.

    November 5, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. Mr. Lugo

    It's fun to see Republicans in fear right now. I guess they don't like the taste of their own medicine :P

    November 5, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. Steve in Arizona

    I am sick to death of people saying "See, Bush has done a good job. We haven't been attacked since 9/11."

    To them, I would say: Look it up, how many years went by between the first and second World Trade Center attacks.

    Case closed.

    November 5, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. Not Ready!

    McCain would have known what to do, Obama will simply hide under the desk until help arrives!

    November 5, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  17. Rollo Rogers, San Diego, CA

    Well, we now have a C-I-C who says he will talk to our deadly
    enemies and work things out.

    OK I can forsee the following scenario.

    The CIA flys our New Prez to a mountain on the border with Pakistan.

    He is escorted into a deep cave in the mountain and the moderator says to him.

    Obama meet Osama. :)

    November 5, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  18. SHELLI1313

    This just lets us know that the Republicans just won't stop with the FEAR, and the LIES and CHEATING. If McShame was the winner they wouldn't say a word. Now we are going to find out all of the DIRTY things that Bush/Chaney/chertoff and the others have done and are doing and the lengths that they will go to hide from America and our New President of These United States of America. I know one thing, President Obama had Better Sweep the White House for BUGS AND I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE CRAWLING ONES OR FLYING ONES EITHER!

    November 5, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  19. Joshua

    This guy should not even be Secretary of Homeland Security. Anyone with dual citizenship should not be able to hold high Government Office with Top Security Clearance.

    November 5, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  20. stephanie

    What a pleasure it will be do lay you off along witht he other fear, war and hate mongers int he Bush administration....

    Perhaps you might be vulnerable to some accountability for your missteps in office??

    November 5, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. Scary

    The fact that I hear so many people use the word "worship," and Obama in the same sentence is scary!

    November 5, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  22. Shannon

    I'm more worried about what will happen to those of us who don't worship Obama, read the hate directed at her by Obama supporters on the thread that talks about her 2012 bid. These are the people who talk about hope and change and condemn hate. Read their posts, I say god help America, if this is their idea of hope and change. They hypocricy f their words is just astounding! How do the hate filled words of Obama supporters unite the country. It shows what the man is really about, just read the hundreds of posts here on CNN, this man can inspire one thing...hate!

    November 5, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  23. Sharon: Florida

    As we endeavor to become more personally responsible for our lives, which is what Pres. Elect Obama has encouraged us to do, we should also PRAY for our country and our President. We are all still in this together. I vote that we all give ourselves no more than 24 hours to get over whatever adjustments we have to wrap our minds around, especially for those who had their vote going to the losing party, and get moving in a positive and meaningful direction where our counrty is concerned. In addition, let us be vigilant and cooperative with him and the policies set forth by this administration. He means well. Let us not add to his burden, but help to lift it.

    November 5, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. Comrade nom deplume

    I am not worried about terrorism. If they strike, it will probably be NYC or Boston or DC or LA. And if the folks there aren't concerned about it, why should I be?

    November 5, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  25. Magtheo

    I hope things will be fine, but it's time to get scare we have a lot of work today. This country is at it's worth economically. We need to stay together so we can accomplish the most.

    November 5, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8