In a new book, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge reveals new details on politicization under President Bush, reports US News & World Report’s Paul Bedard. Among other things, Ridge admits that he was pressured to raise the terror alert to help Bush win re-election in 2004.
Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was “blindsided” by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.
Okay, I am a cynical person and it’s a very particular bitter cynicism born solely from working in politics. After 9 years, it still blows my mind how corrupt these people were.
There are two things I want to say about this, both of which are so deeply disappointing that I can barely even write about them.
1. This implies that the Bush Administration knew terror alerts raised the presidents standing in political polls and wasn’t afraid to use announcements as a political tool. There’s a graph which I find interesting but not fully conclusive which supports this conclusion. Ridge says he never actually gave in but that doesn’t appear to be the case:
Most notoriously, in an August news conference Ridge issued a terror warning for the New York City and Washington, D.C., financial districts. Ridge did not mention that most of the “new” intelligence he cited when he raised the threat level to orange actually pre-dated the 9/11 attacks. Shortly after the election the terror threat levels in New York City and Washington, D.C., were quietly lowered.
:: SeattlePI ::
JuliusBlog, the makers of that graph say that whenever approval ratings dipped as the result of particularly bad press there was a new terror alert announcement. Assuming that is actually the case, either Ridge was complicit or it happened and he didn’t mention anything…until someone offered him money to write a book!!! In other words, he’s just corrupt enough to reveal it all for cash. Disgusting.
2. According to Ridge, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft were the ones who wanted him to politicize the terror alerts in order to sway an election. As far as our current government is concerned this is not actionable election fraud. There will be no panels, no one brought before congress, no one fined, no one imprisoned. We live with a government so fraught with corruption that prosecuting someone for trying to betray the country with lies is not a viable use of political capital.