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(CNN) — Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told CNN former Vice President Dick Cheney's repeated charge the Obama administration has made the country less safe is wrong.
"Yeah, I disagree with Dick Cheney," the Pennsylvania Republican and former Bush administration official told CNN's John King, adding he "does not" think the country is more vulnerable to an attack under President Obama.
Ridge's comments come after both Obama and Cheney gave dueling speeches on national security, during which the president sharply condemned Bush administration interrogation practices while
]As the man who oversaw the creation of the largest federal agency in a half-century, Tom Ridge exits the Department of Homeland Security with a record of progress in plugging some gaping holes in areas like aviation security and biodefense. But he also leaves his successor with daunting challenges in other areas that critics say the department has largely ignored. Advertisement Many experts believe the nation's chemical and nuclear plants, ports and even parts of the fortified aviation sector remain vulnerable to attack. And a number of internal and outside audits have questioned whether the mammoth operation that Mr. Ridge designed has the controls in place to do the job. His successor will also face growing tensions about whether taxpayers or private interests should pay the lion's share of the often-staggering costs of securing the country - an issue that bedeviled Mr. Ridge during his tenure. "There's a shared fiscal responsibility," Mr. Ridge said in a recent interview, echoing a plea that he has made to many industry groups. "And that means we can't look to secure all these facilities out of the federal taxpayer's pocket." Mr. Ridge was best known as the public face for the nation's color-coded terror alerts, warning for months that another terrorist attack was likely. The government raised the alert to "high," or orange, status six times on his watch, even as domestic security officials sometimes squabbled with the Justice Department about what they felt were overly dire warnings from Attorney General John Ashcroft.