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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ridge Quits as Reshuffle Proceeds in Bush Cabinet

WASHINGTON -- Tom Ridge, who as the first secretary of homeland security led the post-9/11 effort to protect the United States from a terrorist attack at home, said Tuesday that he would leave his job no later than Feb. 1.

Ridge is best known to the public as the official who announced changes in the five-level color-coded terrorism alert system.

He was the seventh member of President George W. Bush's Cabinet to announce his resignation since Election Day in a thorough reshaping of the administration in preparation for Bush's second term.

He told Bush of his decision on Tuesday morning. At a news conference later, he did not rule out the possibility of eventually taking another job in the administration or running for office.

But he said that for now he wanted to spend more time with his family and think about what to do next after 22 years in public service, including more than three in which he presumably spent nearly every waking moment contemplating the possibility of another attack.

"As I said to you many times before, we have to be right a billion-plus times a year, meaning we have to make literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of decisions every year, or every day, and the terrorists only have to be right once," Ridge said.

"I'm going to step back a little, breathe deeply and then decide," he said when asked about his plans.

There was no evidence that Ridge was under any pressure to step aside but also no indication that Bush made a concerted effort to persuade him to stay.

Administration officials offered no hint of whom the president would nominate to replace Ridge.