Homeland security chief Tom Ridge has been tapping into the collective wisdom of the think tank community of late as he works to bring the new Department of Homeland Security into being.
Ridge stopped by the Center for the Study of the Presidency before the holidays for a nearly two-hour advice fest with about 20 representatives of Washington’s ideas factories. The group plans to meet roughly every six weeks for the foreseeable future.
“We sensed they were on overload from the think tanks,” said Gilbert A. Robinson, CSP’s counselor. So “we made a proposal to them. We said we’ll have a homeland security roundtable, and if the governor [Ridge] opens it and we get participation from other top deputies at future meetings, we’ll try to get all the think tanks together.”
“They seized it with alacrity, said it would help them organize things and put them in an orderly context,” Robinson said. Among those joining Ridge at the CSP conference: Arnaud de Borchgrave from the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Ellen Laipson, the Henry L. Stimson Center; John O. Marsh Jr., the National Center for Technology and Law; Jessica Tuchman Mathews, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Robert C. Orr, the Council on Foreign Relations; and Michael Scardaville, the Heritage Foundation. ANSER, Rand Corp., the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the George C. Marshall Institute and several other policy organizations were also represented. CSP President David M. Abshire chaired the meeting.
Ridge took copious notes on pocket note cards and stayed 30 minutes after the meeting’s designated end, according to Robinson. He also asked participants to follow up by sending him a one- or two-page summary of their work.
This article appeared in The Washington Post, Tuesday, January 7, 2003, page A15