November 5th, 2008
04:01 PM ET
12 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

    Well, one of the biggest threats to America is on its way to Alaska as we speak. Hopefully it will stay there and keep its criminal Senator right next to her.

    November 5, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. aware

    Biden warned America first! 😦

    And American money and media did buy a president, and Russia did present the stealth president elect with his first test!

    Hillary blew her best chance!

    But look to the future! POTUS is not a permanent job!

    Sarah Palin 2012 and /or 2016! She is an authentic reformer and will be well prepared to be POTUS in either 4 or 8 years! 🙂

    November 5, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. Paul

    terrosists know we don;'t have Bush anymore to protect us..He knows what Buish response would be,to kick ones what Obamas response will be..will they test it right after administration?

    November 5, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Richard

    Hey Casey, you say that Obama can't change the minds of 47% of the voter?

    How about the past 2 elections when the idiot that you voted for LOST the popular vote. I think the fact that the guy that has the majority in the popular vote won should be a breath of fresh air for the institution of democracy.

    November 5, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    the only terror attacks in this country in the last 8 years came from Bush and his henchmen.... My guess is they'll be busy packing up for the ranch in Paraguay.

    November 5, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Rai

    Obama said he has foreign policy experience to deal with nations. He made a lot of promises, so he has to deliver, and quickly. There has to be reality to rhetoric.

    November 5, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. MK (in CO)

    Hello Mr. DHS Chief, You are are still in charge of the homeland security, right? So, keep us safe until the new guy takes over your job. And as for the training, I am pretty sure that the President Obama have already thought off that.

    November 5, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. Sammy

    The question is why he decided to make such an announcement the day after the election.

    November 5, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. Kathy

    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.

    November 5, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. THeGAME

    I dont think that there will be many more terrorist attacks, and I believe that Homeland Security should go back to being the FBI as opposed to its current entity.

    We have less to fear with Obama being president, because its not our people the wackos out there are mad at, its is our leaders arrogance. Unless Obama turns out to be like Bush on the other side of the isle, there is more of a chance for peace.

    I just hope he isnt a whimp like Clinton was.

    November 5, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. jn

    again, more scare tactics!!! I thought that the world was supposed to be more safe now according to why should we be worried...unless there is something that Bush and Co. are not telling us (which we should be used to by now) Aren't we all tired of living in fear? I know I am...but we just elected the best two who will keep us from harm and not scare us out of our witts everyday like Bush and Co.

    November 5, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Ken

    Carole, you are a hypocrit. Look back at the last two elections and you'll see that your boy Bush was elected by way thinner margins, and had NO mandate And Bush CERTAINLY didn't have the brains to run his own campaign...he was manipulated by his neo-puppeteers, and you rightwing goons loved it! And if there ever was a president that took no responsibility, or as you say "hey that is no my job", it SURE was Mr. Bush. And now, so soon after this historic election, you have the unmitigated gall to falsely call Obama out for bad personality traits that you yourself have already elected to office TWICE!!!! You batter go hide under your rock, before something falls on you!

    November 5, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. John

    When will the rest of the election poll numbers be updated on the CNN election map website? More than 60% of the states listed don't have 100% of their numbers. The states that do have 100% currently have McCain winning the race.....???
    Please update your map.

    November 5, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. A private nationalist

    To all those who have posted there comments. Please keep in mind the one thing that allows you to post comments in this manner. It is because brave men and woman decided to serve a cause greater themselves to preserve what matters the most and what others view as an obsticle to achieve and hate the very thing as we the United of America stands for...FREEDOM!!!! Remember as you all sleep tonight you never wake up to sounds of war and that their are brave souls who are doing just that at this very moment. Remember them and the ones that have fallen and never give up the hope and ideal of Freedom because whomever our nation's leader was, is, or is going to be. This is the one thing that must motivate us all to achieve greatness and true FREEDOM!!!

    November 5, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Addam

    Enough with the vulnerability crap. Anything could happen at any time. Stop making it seem like transitioning to a Democratic adminstration from a Republican administration is going to lead to us being attacked. Would you be saying this if John McCain were elected. Me thinks not.

    November 5, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  16. Jeff

    You better fear what may happen! The people we are currently being protected from are not just trying to play mind games, they want the U.S. gone. They are extemely dangerous, has 9/11 been forgotten already? Did we not learn our lesson from Vietnam, when our own people treated our soldiers like peices of dirt? That's right, I forgot, Liberals don't care about anyone but themselves. They want everything given to them. And that is exactly what the great Obama has promised you. You will get your hand-outs, but is it worth paying for with your own jobs. Will it be worth it watching your neighborhood mom and pop shops closing down??? Oh thats right, you can still use Bush as your scapegoat. And you will, guaranteed.

    November 5, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  17. Patrick

    I hope everyone can and will give Bush credit for not letting there be another attack on the United States after 9/11. Its easy to feel safe now but in the days, weeks, and months after 9/11 everyone predicted more attacks. It was his strong response that has kept this from happening. We can debate Iraq but let there be no debate that the war in Afghanistan and on terror in general were right, justified, and successful. I hope Obama will not go on defense in the war on terror for all our sakes.

    November 5, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  18. Aaron

    Screw off, Chertoff. You fear-mongering idiot. Your type of 'control the country by fear' politics are over.

    November 5, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  19. Crabs



    November 5, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Pam

    Too bad Bush wasn't concerned about transition vulnerability in 2000. Maybe they could have stopped 9/11 from happening.

    November 5, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. C

    Carole: So – my only question to Obama and his know-it-all supporters – how can Obama change our Country when he cannot even change the minds of 47% of Americans about his ability to lead?

    Are you a republican? Bush was 48% to 48% when he beat Al Gore. Gore won the popular vote. How did you expect Bush to lead the country when he lost the ACTUAL VOTE of our american people? How can McCain change our country when he LOST and couldn't change the mind of 52% of people.

    November 5, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. Daniel

    Wow, the hicks, rednecks and racist have finally learned to type and access the internet and now are attacking Obama from every side.

    I wonder if you were so critical when it was under YOUR boss that this country suffered through 9/11. If he wasn't at fault does Obama get an 8 month grace period where to blame Bush for anything that happens to the country. Boy, no wonder Palin had alot of followers and hate spreading supporters.

    By the way, for those who say that Obama will be attacked because he won't kick but like Bush, let me tell you something: I've been to Iraq twice and with the exception of the homegrow hatred we put down I've yet to see an Al Quaida terrorist. They are probably plotting against us somewhere nice and cozy while our Armed Forces are knee deep in the Bush-Cheney fiasco.

    If someone attacked us now you know what would happen, we'd probably invade Venezuela since they are the next oil producing country on out list. I'm sure Bush would somehow try and link Hugo Chavez with Osama Bin Ladden.

    November 5, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  23. Chris

    Right wing republicans:

    Your GOD clearly wanted Obama to win. If your GOD didn't want Obama to win, it would never have happened... right? Since everything W. did was ordained by your GOD (because W. spent so much time asking your GOD what to do), don't you think that if your GOD liked what he saw he would have given McCain the presidency?

    Clearly even your GOD thinks the last eight years were a mistake.

    But what do I know, I'm an Atheist.

    November 5, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. KenB, MI

    So, how much money is he asking for...

    November 5, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  25. jn

    Please go see someone about your anger...and please stop calling me a moron...I have had enough of your capital lettered that the election is over and you are still full of hate, disappear for a while and get some help~you really needs it!!!! Good luck!

    November 5, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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