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Homeland security chief resignsHomeland security chief resigns

Homeland security chief resigns

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge handed in his resignation to President Bush today. The move was expected. Ridge had previously said he wanted to step down from the pressures of the job to spend more time with his family.

Ridge was extremely supportive of the AOPA Airport Watch program, appearing on the beginning of AOPA's videotape lauding the association's cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration in establishing this government/industry partnership. ( View AOPA's Airport Watch video.)

"It is unfortunate that our less than three year relationship with Secretary Ridge will now end, and we will be required to start again with his replacement, said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But such has been the case with three heads of the Transportation Security Administration in the same time frame, so we are up to the task.

"AOPA certainly hopes that Ridge's departure will not mean the loss of other key security officials in DHS/TSA who are working with us to understand the unique issues facing general aviation."

Ridge was originally tapped as President Bush's homeland security advisor in October 2001, following the September 11 attacks on America. He later presided over the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, which combined 22 disparate federal agencies and 180,000 employees into the largest bureaucracy created since the Department of Defense. He became the department's first secretary in January 2003.

"I am confident that the terrorists are aware that from the curb to the cockpit we've got additional security measures that didn't exist a couple years ago," Ridge said in announcing his resignation. "There will always be more to do, but today, America is significantly stronger and safer than ever before."

November 30, 2004

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