May 24th, 2009
09:15 AM ET
5 years ago

Ridge blasts Obama over Guantanamo handling

(CNN) - Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is taking President Obama to task over his handling of closing the detention center on Guantanamo Bay.

In his interview with CNN's John King on State of the Union Sunday, Ridge said Obama "doesn't have a plan" on how to relocate the current detainees, and suggested the president announced he was close the facility prematurely.

"Reaching conclusion that you can shut it down without determining the manner in which you were going to adjudicate those who should stay somewhere… How are we going to dispose of them?" he said.

"And at the end of the day, doesn't the world community have another problem? If you think we're going to be dealing with international terrorism in many forms for the next decade or two or three, aren't we going to encounter this again?" He continued. "Maybe not only in the United States, but elsewhere around the world? How are we going to deal with this?"

The comments come days after Obama delivered a high profile speech in Washington, during which he argued closing the facility at this time will ultimately enhance America's national security.

"The record is clear: rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security," he said in the Thursday speech. "It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it."

Obama also pledged, "We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people."


Filed under: President Obama • State of the Union • Tom Ridge
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Willy Brown

    America please forgive the resident of the white house. He knows not what to does base on all of his executive experience he has cultivated during his 43 days as a senator. Change is coming in 2010

    May 24, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. rorshach

    lets see if I can put my finger on the "Obama Doctrine"… thus far this is what I have…
    1) Close a prison holding those who want to kill Americans, only do this without having anywhere to send them
    2) Make fun of the special olympics
    3) Have difficulty filling your cabinet because all you seem to appoint are tax cheating lobbyists
    4) Tell private corporations (Chrysler) how and when they can do business.
    5) PROFIT!

    May 24, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. kd

    Guess Ridge, McCain and Cheney were listening to a different speech from Obama. I heard plenty of plans from the president. He listed the ways to bring all to trial/in front of tribunals and how to relocate them.

    So what's the problem? Why do so many Republicans keep their ears plugged to rage against something that doesn't exist? Obama has answers, while the Republicans do nothing but complain and whine.

    May 24, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. New Yorker

    Obama, maybe, means well, but he doesn't have a clue how to protect this country. If he thinks he can reason with people who are determined to destroy us because of their ideology, he's wrong. If he thinks we should just appease these terrorists by being gentle with them, he is wrong. Just like Israel we, alos, have a right to defend ourselves even if that means keeping some terrorists in Guantanamo.

    May 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. Stike 1

    We cant put detainees in an super max prison, from which there has never been an escape. We can live in our cities with almost daily drive by shootings and more frequent home INVASION robberies and assaults on older citizens by persons free to terrorize. Would venture to say that there are more of these nutzos running loose then there are detainees. Go figure.

    May 24, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. Dawn

    Here we go again, Gitmo is in Cuba and Cuba can say, get the hell out of my Country, Guess what, we have to do it.

    I got it, place them at the South Pole, with only their prison clothing and sandels on. Freeze baby Freeze!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Gitmo is a black eye for the United States, some neo-cons now know that waterboarding is torture, just ask Mancow!!!!!!

    May 24, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. Pennsylvania'er

    I love how this is presented.. "Ridge blasts Obama". I watched the interview, it was hardly a "blast". Ridge gave some very good and balanced opposing arguments. Just another step CNN is taking to be as sensationalized as possible and dramatize every piece of information. And we wonder why both sides get so polarized?

    May 24, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  8. annie s

    I side with the President and Secretary of Defense Gates – we already have terrorists in U.S. prisons and we have never had an escape from a supermax prison. Bring them here for trials and detention.

    I would also say that our President clearly has a plan – restore America's standing in the world so that our allies will stand with us and help us in this fight against terrorism.

    May 24, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. MLH

    I thought he had a plan. I listened to him speak, and I am sure I heard a fairly detailed plan. If the GOP would get over themselves, take their fingers out of their ears and stop pandering to caricatures like Rush and Coulter, they would hear the plans and some of them probably have constructive ideas that would improve the plans.

    On the other hand, they could be shrill and obstructive until 2010.

    C'mon GOP, instead of excoriating him in the press, why don't you give us YOUR detailed plan so that we can argue the merits.

    May 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. christa

    Why Ridge did not slam Bush and Cheney when there administration did all of these crimes against humanity. Now every one is coming out of their holes, were they hid in those 8 years and critizise our new president after 4 month. Wait and see for a year or two and then put in your five cent.

    May 24, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  11. Lynn

    Republicans "blast" President Obama after four months into office and refuse to accept any responsibility for the Bush Administration in not preventing the attacks on 9/11 after he was in office for SEVEN months.

    The Bush administration did NOT make America safer through their invasion of Iraq and leaving the war in Afghanistan go unabatted.

    They did NOTHING to solve the problems in the Middle East, emboldened Iran who was on America's side in Afghanistan. Of equal importance is that they sat by and let the economic situation develop into a recession.

    May 24, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  12. Sniffit

    Yeah, it was totally stupid of him to push the issue to force something to get done about it cuz Congress was soooooo ready to address the issue all on its own....and pigs have toes.

    May 24, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  13. Kimberly from Houston, TX

    Some of you out there have a lot of hate in your heart...

    May 24, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. Sniffit

    @ New Yorker, who said "Obama, maybe, means well"

    Gotta le t it go and at some point believe in something, right?

    May 24, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. you got to be kidding

    If it hadn't been opened , we wouldn't be having these discussions. In my opinion this is nothing more than a modern day concentration camp with better health care. All who approved or kept silent about it, come together and figure this out instead of the "not in my backyard" crap.

    May 24, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  16. lynn in NM

    I think he should release the inmates of Gitmo into the Washington DC area. Since they are all fine, upstanding people, the DC area should be very safe. Why would he try to put them into someone else's backyard? He says no citizens will be put in danger. IF that's true, then he should welcome them into his backyard.

    May 24, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. Simmy

    kd........I'm with you.....

    It seems Republicans can't give the President straight out credit for doing anything.....They all have the answers now.....Not one saw the impending doom in our economy and security.....Detainees didn't just spring up like weeds from out of no where.....They've been around for years.....

    I applaud my fresh new ideas LEADER.......He's not afraid of a fight.....He's more transparent than any other President ever dared to be......The problem is, Republicans, and some dumb Democrats, can't handle truth.....(And some are just plain cowards).......

    GITMO will be funded, and it will close.......God is with this man.....He will not be denied......Peace...

    Log on to 'Paralzyed Veterans of America,' and encourage a wounded Veteran......If possible, give a donation.......

    Thank you again, brave warriors for protecting US.....Thank you families who have lost brave ones in the battle.....Their fighting was not in vain......Pray for our troops........BLESSED MEMORIAL DAY......(Make it more than a picnic day).....

    May 24, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Pacollegegirl

    The Rush Newt Cheney/Greedy Old People party is SO out of touch with America!

    May 24, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. Fla.

    Another Republucan grasping at straws. Is the GOP capable of paying any attention to what President Obama says? "NO" still from that party. Sad.

    Our president has made it very clear that it will take up to a year to close the GOP mess of Gitmo, and we are barely 3 months into that process.

    Fortunately, many Americans are actually listening to the information provided and feel President Obama keeps us updated of the ongoing progress of these national security issues, as it unfolds (unlike the lies of the previous administration, Mr. Ridge).

    May 24, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Scott Stodden

    We have to remember one thing about the Guantanamo Prison, this prison is housing the terroists and masterminds of 9/11. I was in utter shock on 9/11, I couldnt believe this was happening and I said whoever did this deserves to pay for what they did at any cost and I didnt have any relatives or friends connected to 9/11. Yes torture is wrong and it was wrong for the Bush administration to allow torture on these detainees and the Bush administration should be prosecuted for what they did. However, Iam a Democrat, I voted for Hillary in the primaries and Obama in the general election and I love President Obama for everything he stands for and believes in and I do feel he's doing a great job. I do not support the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison, I feel that we should keep these detainees in Cuba at Guantanamo but just make sure nobody commit torture on any of these prisoners. I know Obama said he wouldnt endanger the United States but I dont feel comfortable with allowing these terroists inside the United States

    May 24, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  21. AndyB

    gee maybe we should just ask Rush what should be done with Guantanamo POW's. He'll know, afterall he has 20 million listeners. ha ha ha Better yet lets ask O'Reilly, Beck, Hannity, Coulter or better yet just hand things over to Fox news. LOL

    May 24, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  22. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    is Tom Ridge the face of the new Republican?

    first he goes after Rush the bottom feeder . then he says Obama doesn't have a plan for the bad people at Gitmo..
    well its simple put them in a federal prison. and us vidio confrencing to have a trial . and then deal with each of them .

    May 24, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. phoenix86

    This was the first Obama decision of his administration and it was poorly thought out and hastily made. This poor and hasty decision was then followed by equally poorly thought out decisions on bailouts, the auto industry, the financial industry and now health care.

    Could Obama temporarily step down as President until he learns how to do his job?

    May 24, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. steve

    I guess some people want these terroists in prisons in this country where they cannot be torchered and can make a mockery of our justice system and convert the prisoners in jail to Moslems and a breeding ground for future terroists.

    May 24, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. Kevin, Austin

    I couldn't disagree more with Mr. Ridge and others.

    Leaders point out the direction we're going and then they let their assembled team figure out how to get there.

    Kennedy didn't wait until all the pieces were in place before he said "We're going to the moon baby". He said it and we followed.

    That's what great leadership is all about – vision, courage, passion, intelligence. Obama has the vision to know that Gitmo is not a long-term solution that jives with our American ideals, the courage to openly state his mission, long before his team has a plan ready, the passion to stick with his vision in the face of petty, parochial critics, and the intelligence to know how to adjust his vision to reality as it presents itself.

    This folks, is what leadership looks like, in case you've forgotten.

    May 24, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
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