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Tommy Thompson on Homeland Security

Former Secretary of H.H.S.; former Republican Governor (WI)

 


Eliminate detention powers granted by the NDAA

Question 11. Will you support legislation eliminating detention powers granted by the NDAA that could infringe upon citizens' freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, privacy, or rights to counsel? [Note: the NDAA, or National Defense Authorization Act, extends the PATRIOT Act's counter-terrorism laws to include indefinite detention of suspected terrorists]

Mark Neumann: Yes

Tommy Thompson: Yes

Source: 2012 Wisconsin Tea Party Senate Debate Questionnaire , Aug 13, 2012

Try terrorist suspects in military court

Question 12. Do you believe that non-citizens suspected of terrorist acts should be tried in a military court?

Mark Neumann: Yes

Tommy Thompson: Yes

Source: 2012 Wisconsin Tea Party Senate Debate Questionnaire , Aug 13, 2012

Pre-9-11: confident we could react to bioterrorism

During a military exercise in June 2001, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson said the administration was "very confident that we could act and react to any kind of bioterrorist breakout." Within four months, I learned just how wrong tha was.

A post 9/11 group immersed itself in its theoretical discussions, an aide interrupted with news that any sense of the theoretical was now in the past. Robert Stevens, who worked in the art department of the "Sun", a supermarket tabloid based in Boca Raton FL, had apparently been poisoned by anthrax spores and taken to a hospital.

The question in everyone's mind and on many people's lips was: Was the contamination the work of terrorists, and if so, was it connected to 9/11? Was it a criminal act? Or did it have a more benign, natural explanation. Tommy Thompson suggested to the media that Stevens had been exposed to anthrax from spores on his clothes or drinking water from a creek. But the evidence indicated intentional poisoning.

Source: The Test of our Times, by Tom Ridge, p. 40-41 , Sep 1, 2009

Pushed smallpox vaccinations in response to anthrax attacks

By early Nov. 2001, there had been sixteen confirmed cases of anthrax exposure.

To this day, no one has been charged with the anthrax killings, though many law enforcement personnel believed that the source was domestic. One person of interest was mentioned publicly though never indicted.

The influence of the anthrax attacks on policymaking within the Bush White House shouldn't be underestimated. Soon afterward, Cheney, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, led efforts to push ahead on a smallpox vaccine program for all Americans, in hopes of minimizing the impact of a bioattack using smallpox. While many potential first responders and hospital personnel--those who might first come into contact with a smallpox outbreak--were eventually vaccinated, the more ambitious plan never materialized. We also pressed ahead with funding for Project Bioshield, aimed at developing vaccines and stockpiling them to protect Americans in the event of a bioterror attack.

Source: What Happened, by Scott McClellan, p.111 , May 28, 2008

Maintain vigilance against terrorism

Q: Halloween is tomorrow night--worried about children trick-or-treating?

A: Iím always worried about children trick-or-treating but I am not more worried because of whatís going on right now. All Iím asking people to do is be very careful; watch what they receive, and check it out and be vigilant with their activities.

Q: How about safety of the food system overall?

A: We have been reviewing all of the sensitive intelligence that is coming in from overseas and around the US, that we have been working tremendously long hours to get prepared. But there are always problems, and we want people to be vigilant and that is what the president wants, and that is what I want.

Q: Is there an end in sight for the anthrax mailings

A: I hope thereís an end, and I hope that the FBI is able to arrest the individuals behind it. But until that happens, we have to stay vigilant. We have to make sure that we examine our mail in a very strenuous manner.

Source: CNN coverage: Larry King Live interview (Bush Cabinet) , Oct 30, 2001

24-hour-a-day war on bioterrorism

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: The president has been conducting a 24-hour war on terrorism, not just with our troops located in Afghanistan and with the eyes of this country toward Afghanistan, but itís been a 24-hour-a-day war on terrorism here in the US. As we continue our round-the-clock war on terrorism at home, we think itís very appropriate to bring some of these principals together on a regular basis to respond to questions

TOMMY THOMPSON, H.H.S. SECRETARY: Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services has 575 individuals in the field responding to acts of threats of bioterrorism. More resources and help are only a phone call away, weíre going to be very aggressive as possible in responding to acts of threats or bioterrorism. We understand that people are very concerned about anthrax, and weíre going to continue to respond with the personnel, the expertise and the medicine necessary to deal with these acts and threats of bioterrorism. Weíre going to err on the side of caution

Source: Press conference with Director Tom Ridge (Bush Cabinet) , Oct 29, 2001

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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2021