Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Homeland Security Secretary has submitted his resignation to President Bush. Officials, speaking on the basis of anonymity have confirmed the resignation and indicate that Ridge sent an email to department officials calling the department 'an extraordinary organization that each day contributes to keeping America safe and free.' Ridge joins six other Bush Cabinet members who are leaving at the end of his first term.
Ridge is expected to remain in the position for a few more months until a successor can be named. Possible replacements for Ridge are Bernard Kerik, interim Minister of the Interior for Iraq and former New York City police commissioner, former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt, and White House homeland security adviser Fran Townsend.
Ridge became the first homeland security advisor in October 2001, shortly after the events of September 11 made it clear how unprepared the nation was for such an attack. His job was to study internal security and find ways to beef it up. In January 2003, Ridge became the first Homeland Security Secretary, when the new department was established. He headed 180,000 employees.
Ridge, who had been the governor of Pennsylvania prior to accepting the job at the White House, oversaw the nation through six national “orange alerts,” and has stated that he believes at least one major attack was thwarted last summer. Although loyal to Bush, Ridge, who is 59, told friends that he was resigning to step back from the stress of the situation.