May 24th, 2009
09:15 AM ET
14 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. Bill ~ Down on the Bayou

    I don't care what they do with the present batch of detainees, give each one a quarter million and release them in New York.
    My main concern is....It should be military policy, never, never take a prisoner. Anytime you encounter a potential enemy, leave him/her laying, dead, where you encountered them and move on to the next obstacle.This policy will also free all those military persone nowl deployed as prison guards to the battle ground to take out more potential prisones.

    May 24, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  2. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    These Republicans are all criminals and only a court of law can establish their various drgree of culpability.They just don't only want to destroy America they want to destroy the world order.

    May 24, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. katiec

    Another insignificant, incompetent republican getting the headlines.
    ANYONE who speaks out against our president and his policies is immediately headlined as a person of knowledge and honor.
    Ridge is neither. Along with Cheney,. Limbaugh, Rove, etc he is
    of no value for the future of our country. He supports and touts the
    failures of these last eight years.
    Yet these hypocrits, unAmerican, party first idiots are constantly
    shoved down our throats by the media.
    Can we ever have integrity from those who should act responsibility??

    May 24, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. JC

    We have many terrorists locked up in our prisons on our soil right now. There are plenty in Colorado's supermax. What makes the people in Guantanamo any different? Here is the plan for those that sdon't get it.

    1) Actually prosecute the terrorists in Guantanamo. This will bring them to justice.
    2) Treat them like every other terrorist that we have caught and prosecuted by locking the guilty ones in our supermax prisons and throwing away the key. No prisoner has ever escaped from a super max facility in the country.
    3) Treating these terrorists like the normal criminals they are and closing Guantanamo will take away a recruiting tool for the terrorist groups. Guantanamo has created more terrorists than it houses.
    4) Stop acting so scared and weak as a country. Terrorism is not much of a threat. Our fast food resturants are killing a lot more people. Just calm down and prosecute them like the petty criminals they are.

    May 24, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. Independent_me

    Here is the thing.
    Bush wanted to close Guantanamo but didn't have a plan either, so nothing was done. If he had made the decision to close it, the administration would have been forced to come up with a plan.
    That is what Obama understood, and that is what he has done.
    Not having a plan is simply an excuse to debate the matter into the next century.
    Announcing the closing of the place forces action.

    May 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. John

    CNN you are too sensational. Ridge just stated his differences – hardly a "blast".

    May 24, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. Robin the Republican

    @you got to be kidding May 24th, 2009 10:17 am ET

    "In my opinion this is nothing more than a modern day concentration camp with better health care."

    You are so funny. This is nothing like a concentration camp. See if you can follow along.

    Concentration Camp: Arrest law abiding, hard-working, people who are different. Jews, Gypsies, Poles etc. Take away their bank accounts, their businesses, homes, and property. Starve them, beat them, kill them in gas chambers. Their crime, being Jews, Gypsies, or Poles.

    Guantanamo Bay: Arrest terrorists that want to see America destroyed and our people killed. Waterboard 3 of them who helped plan the attack and murder of 2998 American Citizens to get information that possibly stopped another mass-murder of Americans living in LA. Their crime, wanting to mass-murder Americans. They will do it again in a heart beat if given the chance.

    May 24, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. BobbyC

    I think that "premature" is accurate – he's got good intentions and ideas and but should at least had an idea of what to do with the bad guys before pulling the trigger.

    Most of Obama's decision have been right. The guy gives the Seals a go ahead on sniping the pirates – yet there are internet sites claiming he waited too long. Not matter what he does there will be criticizism from the right. They stand for whatever is the opposite of what this administration stands for so they will always try to say what he has done is wrong.

    I'd love to hear what these big mouth politicians would like to do. It's sooo easy to criticize – much harder to suggest solutions. I don't hear a lot of solutions being offered.

    May 24, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. annie for Palin

    The plan is simple – behead them all and close the prison. That is what they do to our military men and women and private Americans – they just chop their heads off. So why can't we do that to the gitmo terrorist. Or if that is too gross for you send one terrorist to live with every liberal nutcase who thinks they should be released.

    Does the demmies have anyone in mind to run in 2012 when obama has totally failed?

    May 24, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  10. Proud DHS radical

    This is what you get when liberals vote in a community organizing wimp with very little senate experience and absolutely no business know how. Obama wouldn't know what leadership is if his dog bite him on the backside.

    May 24, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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