Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston





Thursday, August 20, 2009



This is straight from the horse's mouth--the official who ran Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.

We suspected the Bush Administration was using terror alerts to keep Americans fearful and to boost Dubya's poll numbers through phony scare tactics in the run-up to the 2004 elections.

The truth is out.


The Bush Administration cynically used Homeland Security--the largest government agency ever instituted under any US president--for political reasons, when it should have been protecting the American people. Ridge, writing in his soon-to-be-released book, "The Test of Our Times/America Under Siege ... and How We Can Be Safe Again," stated that his office was "pressured to connect connect homeland security to the international war on terror," according to a release from his publisher.

This revelation would lead us all to wonder if the warnings were all manipulated and underhandedly worked to influence the 2004 elections.

As I stated, we on the Left always suspected this. Now we know we were right:

Ridge: Rumsfeld and Ashcroft wanted to raise terror threat level because it helped Bush’s approval rating.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pours through Tom Ridge’s new book and offers the relevant passages where the former Homeland Security chief discusses the Bush administration’s desire to increase the terror threat level for political reasons. Ridge reveals that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued in favor of raising the threat level by noting the correlation it had with Bush’s approval rating:

ridgerummyOsama bin Laden had released a videotape with one more ominous sounding but unspecific threat against the United States. Neither Mr. Ridge nor any of the department’s security experts thought the message warranted any change in the nation’s alert status.

“…at this point there was nothing to indicate a specific threat and no reason to cause undue public alarm,” he writes.

But that view met resistance in a tense conference call with members of the intelligence community and several other Cabinet officers including Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“A vigorous, some might say dramatic, discussion ensured. Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level and was supported by Rumsfeld.”

Noting the correlation found between increases in the threat level and the president’s approval rating, Mr. Ridge writes, “I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?’”

h/t ThinkProgress


TRUTH 101 said...

This is a strange coincidence because I could swear that as Bush's poll numbers went up, the price of gas went up. As his numbers went down, so followed the price of gas. It keeps getting manchurianer and manchurianer.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I knew it!!

Arthurstone said...

Nattering nabobs of negativism! Next they'll tell us the 'War on Terror' itself was based on domestic political concerns.

Wait. It was.

Personally I can't wait for Cheney's book. The discussion of draft-dodger Dicks plan to invade Buffalo will be worth the price of admission it's own self. That and Dick's assertion his cardiologist suggested he take up waterboarding al-Qaeda suspects as a hobby...

dmarks said...

"This is a strange coincidence because I could swear that as Bush's poll numbers went up, the price of gas went up"

Where you were you in 2008, Truth, when Bush's approval ratings were hardly higher than manure, and gas prices were through the roof?

Or 2002, when gas prices were rather low ($1.30 or so in April 2002), and Bush's approval ratings were a nice high 70s? I wonder if you meant to say the opposite of what you did.

TRUTH 101 said...

You're conveniently leaving out the six years in between Dmarks.

James' Muse said...

Truth, Bush's numbers fell and gas prices rose in those six years. Bush got elected in 2004, but I doubt he would have in 2008, or even if we had the election in '06.

James' Muse said...

But still, this is apalling (if true). I suspect it is true, but how would it be substantiated?

dart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
libhom said...

dmark: You are playing the game of the invalid comparison. You extreme rightists love playing that game instead of thinking and arguing logically.

Pamela D. Hart said...

I've always like Ridge. He was our Governor in PA, now we've got…well…Rendell. Anyway, if this is true, and I tend to believe it is, because Ridge resigned under the guise of family obligations; which I thought were a bit strange. But like James asked, how would it be substantiated? Would they have a Homeland Security Commission Investigation?

Gordon said...

"Noting the correlation found between increases in the threat level and the president's approval rating, Mr. Ridge writes, "I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?' " (emphasis mine)

Ridge didn't write, "They politicized terror threats." Them's your (and ThinkProgress') fantasies.

Wouldn't it be an interesting post without the exaggerations and fabrications?

dmarks said...

Libhom: I am not an "extreme rightist" by any stretch, so your statement does not apply to me.

Invalid comparison? I think you pulled that one out of thin air. The comparison is of Bush poll numbers and the price of gas, as defined by Truth 101 in the first comment.

I was merely pointing out that on the charts, Bush's popularity trended down over the years while gas prices trended up. Looking at the facts is part of "thinking and arguing logically."

I don't think you bothered to read or think about it much before you made your comment.

Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Sure, they exploited America's utter post 9/11 paranoia for the most base political reasons. Ridge's book is not news. The only thing newsworthy is the fact that someone who was in the know is finally admitting it. He should have written his book five years ago.

I knew what was going on in the hours leading up to the election of 2004. It was so freaking obvious, you had to be an idiot to miss it.

On the first posting on my blog on June 2, 2006, I wrote the following:

"PREDICTION: George W. Bush will be remembered in history, primarily, as the first (pray last) former chief executive to go to federal prison. Sound crazy? Stay tuned.

I stand by those words.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

dmarks said...

Truth: I do not know what you mean by the "leaving out six years in between". I was looking at these two trends during the entire 8 years of the Bush administration. No gaps.

dmarks said...

Gordon: If they had ignored the Osama threat just before the election, and the fact that election time is an obvious time to be concerned about security matters, they would have been accused by the same people of "suppressing a threat" for political purposes.

Shaw Kenawe said...


This is taken from an online Patriot-News publiation:

Publisher of his memoir, "The Test of Our Times/America Under Siege ... and How We Can Be Safe Again," Macmillan, writes in a press release that Ridge "reveals how Ridge effectively thwarted a plan to raise the national security alert just before the 2004 election..."

And this is the headline from that online publication:

Former Gov. Tom Ridge says Bush administration used homeland security office for political reasons
by The Patriot-News
Thursday August 20, 2009, 5:15 PM

This is the New York Daily News' online:

Bush admin pressured ex-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge to raise terror warnings pre-election

BY James Gordon Meek

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who left the state to become President George W. Bush's first director of homeland security, says in his soon-to-be-released book that his office was "pressured to connect homeland security to the international war on terror," according to a release from his publisher.

And one more, The NYTimes:

Bush Official, in Book, Tells of Pressure on ’04 Vote

Published: August 20, 2009

WASHINGTON — Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, asserts in a new book that he was pressured by top advisers to President George W. Bush to raise the national threat level just before the 2004 election in what he suspected was an effort to influence the vote.

My understand is that the operative words are "pressured," "raise threat," and "before the 2004 election."

It isn't only ThinkProgress reporting this disturbing news.

I don't know how this will play out--The Bush Admn. is already denying what Mr. Ridge has written. But the initial reports don't look very good for the Bush Administration. We'd have to believe that Ridge, a Republican, would lie in a published book over this matter.

Do you think he's a liar?

Welcome to a new commenter:

Tom Degan's Daily Rant,

Welcome to PE. We'll stay tuned to where this bombshell goes.

Shaw Kenawe said...

My understandING.


Gordon said...

Sorry, Shaw. I looked at your sources, and they don't support your assertion. To say the thought crossed his mind is quite a bit different from saying that he was told to raise it in order to raise the poll numbers.

You just don't have the facts to back up your headline, nor your assertions in the body of the post.

To attempt to defend your misstatements, you quote from other news sources and a press release. But none of them make the mistatements of fact.

And why would Ridge write about such a situation? To sell books, of course, and to make himself look big and brave and honorable. It's rather telling that your sources quote a press release from his publisher.

Ridge ran his own cabinet-level agency. He doesn't have to take orders from other cabinet officers. Only the president can give him orders, and there is no, none, zero evidence of the president telling him to raise the threat level.

DMarks: Too true. As BDS recedes, we forget how the progressive left would do anything, anything in order to damage the Bush administration. In the case of the New York Times of course, that included publishing details of intelligence gathering programs that were entirely, undisputably legal.

Note: I'm not comparing Shaw to the NYT. Shaw is much more ethical and trustworthy than that publication (if she'll forgive me for the faint praise).

Laughing at Them said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaw Kenawe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaw Kenawe said...

We'll see how this plays out, Gordon. I'm sure Mr. Ridge will be invited on the Sunday talk shows to explain further what he asserts in his book.

I'm surprised you'd question his motives and integrity, but had no problem with Jonah Goldberg's [as we identify him in liberaldom "The Spawn of Lucianne!"] book that implies that leftists are fascists. In fact, IIRC, you thought his opinions were based on great scholarship.

Shaw Kenawe said...

The AFP is reporting this:

By Olivier Knox (AFP) – 21 hours ago

WASHINGTON — Former US homeland security chief Tom Ridge charges in a new book that top aides to then-president George W. Bush pressured him to raise the "terror alert" level to sway the November 2004 US election.

Then defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and attorney general John Ashcroft pushed him to elevate the color-coded threat level, but Ridge refused, according to a summary from his publisher, Thomas Dunne Books.

"After that episode, I knew I had to follow through with my plans to leave the federal government for the private sector," Ridge is quoted as writing in "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege ... And How We Can Be Safe Again."

Some of Bush's critics had repeatedly questioned whether the administration was using warnings of a possible attack to blunt the political damage from the unpopular Iraq war by shifting the debate to the broader "war on terrorism," which had wide popular appeal.

Fran Townsend, Bush's homeland security adviser at the White House, disputed Ridge's account, saying: "There was never a discussion of politics in the terror alerts discussions in the four and a half years I was there."

Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania, was the first secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security that the US Congress created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes.

He also says that Townsend called his department ahead of an August 1, 2004 speech to ask Ridge to include a reference to "defensive measures ... away from home" -- language that he read as being a reference to the Iraq war.

In those remarks, Ridge said he was raising the threat alert level for the financial services sector in New York City, northern New Jersey, and Washington DC, and went on to praise Bush's leadership against extremism.


Gordon said...

Ahem. Jonah Goldberg has exactly what? to do with this subject?

The issue is made more problematic by an interview on just this subject given by Ridge to Eric Lichtblau of the NYT:

"Mr. Ridge provides no evidence that politics motivated the discussion. Until now, he has denied politics played a role in threat levels. Asked by Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times if politics ever influenced decisions on threat warnings, he volunteered to take a lie-detector test. “Wire me up,” Mr. Ridge said, according to Mr. Lichtblau’s book, “Bush’s Law.” “Not a chance. Politics played no part.”"

Arthurstone said...

Bottom line;

They (Progressives) did it too (& worse with GWB).

Right Gordon?

My Mother knocked that feeble line of reasoning out of me at roughly age five.

What's your excuse?

Shaw Kenawe said...

GORDON: "And why would Ridge write about such a situation? To sell books, of course, and to make himself look big and brave and honorable."

You brought this up as a motivation for Ridge's writing his book. I was just wondering if you felt the same way about a book you praised on your blog by Goldberg.

I said that IIRC, you thought it was a good piece of scholarship--one that bashed all liberals.

That is why I brought it up.

Also, when one writes a book, one expects it to sell, otherwise, why bother publishing it?

Gordon said...

What Goldberg does write is that progressives and fascists share a common philosophical heritage, common methods, and common goals. He doesn't imply that you personally are a fascist, and neither would I.

Just because, like Mussolini, you're Italian, look good in leather and write poetry, doesn't mean you're a totalitarian dictator. For one thing, Mussolini would never have owned a Japanese car, and he was a lousy cook as well!

Gordon said...

Goodness, Arthurstone, I wouldn't invoke the "he did it too!" argument. Other commentators here are much better at that than I would ever be.

No, I merely agree with DMarks that an argument can be made that not raising the threat level, when it was arguably justified to do so, could be equally construed as political.

I do think it's interesting that the remarks from others in the administration stress that the program was designed specifically not to be political.

Gordon said...

As for Goldberg's motivation in writing the book, he wrote that he was tired of being called a fascist by people who didn't know what fascism was, where it came from, and who supported it.

I'm sure he also hoped to make money.

Pamela D. Hart said...

I'm wondering why NOW? Why would Ridge bring this out NOW? Why not right as he resigned? Does he have aspirations for the WH in 2012 and this book may help that endeavor? Just me being skeptical again I'm sure. And remember, I said I LIKE Ridge.

Arthurstone said...

"I do think it's interesting that the remarks from others in the administration stress that the program was designed specifically not to be political."

What's interesting about yet another lie perpetuated by the previous administration in order to maintain the fiction of imminent danger?

The list is endless.

The 'interesting' part is people still believe the nonsense spouted by that gang of criminals despite all evidence to the contrary.

dmarks said...

Arthur said: "Nattering nabobs of negativism! Next they'll tell us the 'War on Terror' itself was based on domestic political concerns.

Wait. It was."

I never figured you would side with those boobs. IT was all domestic, right? With Cheney pushing the dynamite plunger to bring down the World Trade Center?

Patrick M said...

Although the timing is dubious (2004 or as soon as he decided to resign would have been more appropriate), Tom Ridge is someone I trust enough to give this some credence. And while I'm not ready to jump to the conclusions you seem to revel in, I'm certainly having more doubts about the conduct of the administration in fighting the war.

Consider me a little less skeptical, if you wish.

Also Shaw, try 3 cups to start the day.

TRUTH 101 said...

There are still those that think Nixon was the cats meow. This same ilk will give their love to W for eternity also. No matter what.

Arthurstone said...

Labelling our response to the crimes of 9/11 as 'The War on Terror' insured we would engage in an un -winnable, virtually unending conflict with an amorphous, changing foe ranging from al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein to Iran, North Korea, the Taliban, etc. etc. In other words our previous administration created a 'war' with a thermostat.

As the domestic political situation warrants our fearless leaders adjust the temperature.

dmarks said...

Thanks, Arthur. I understand the point you are making now.

Arthurstone said...

Perpetual war is very useful politically.

Have a great weekend. I'm heading to Walla Walla for some cycling.

Geo-political strategizing will just have to wait.

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