Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 31, 2009

BACKPEDALING JUST AS FAST AS HE CAN.... Tom Ridge, Bush's first Secretary of Homeland Security, certainly caused a ruckus two weeks ago when he confirmed what many of us assumed to be true -- the Bush administration based terrorist threat levels on political considerations.

As for the former DHS chief explained, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld pressured him to raise the threat level on the eve of the 2004 election, without strong evidence to do so. In his book, Ridge called it a "dramatic and inconceivable" event that "proved most troublesome" and reinforced his decision to resign from the administration after the election.

"There was absolutely no support for that position [raising the threat level] within our department. None," he writes. "I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?' Post-election analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the president's approval rating in the days after the raising of the threat level."

Now, Ridge is walking the whole provocative idea back.

Former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, speaking for the first time about accusations made in his new book, says he did not mean to suggest that other top Bush administration officials were playing politics with the nation's security before the 2004 presidential election.

"I'm not second-guessing my colleagues," Ridge said in an interview about The Test of Our Times, which comes out Tuesday and recounts his experiences as head of the nation's homeland security efforts in the first several years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. [...]

Now, Ridge says he did not mean to suggest he was pressured to raise the threat level, and he is not accusing anyone of trying to boost Bush in the polls. "I was never pressured," Ridge said.

No, of course not. Why would we get that idea?

Probably because Ridge has been saying it for years. As far back as 2005, Ridge acknowledged that the Bush administration periodically put the United States on high alert for terrorist attacks based on flimsy evidence. "There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we [at the Department of Homeland Security] said, 'For that?'" Ridge told reporters.

Indeed, two weeks ago, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld leaned on Ridge hard enough that it contributed to his resignation. Now he wants us to know he was "never pressured."

It's literally unbelievable.

Steve Benen 10:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Comments

horse heads in the bed ruin big dreams of best-sellin' royalties...

our man ridge certainly is a -- what's the word? -- lyin' sack of shit. yeah, that's it...

Posted by: neill on August 31, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Neill, you beat me to it, I was going to suggest that Cheney must have sent Big Rocco around to have a little chat wid' Mista Ridge. But more likely, Rush Limbaugh's listeners crashed his e-mail server with hate mail and death threats. That's how the current leader of the Republican party enforces orthodoxy these days.

Posted by: T-Rex on August 31, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Now he wants us to know he was "never pressured."

... because his wingnut welfare checks might get stopped before he has a chance to properly cash in. Nothing tarnishes a Republican reputation more quickly than daring to tell the truth.

Crashed mail servers and horse heads, indeed.

Posted by: GuyFromOhio on August 31, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Ridge says he did not mean to suggest he was pressured...

Then, WTF did he mean?

Tom Ridge, Bush's first Secretary of Homeland Security, certainly caused a ruckus two weeks ago

Really? A ruckus? The head of Homeland admits to defrauding and lying to the American people, deliberately scaring the sheep so the Bush Cabal would retain power and costing untold millions of dollars in "enhanced" security measures and the entire MSM treated it as a "ho-hum" moment myself. Rather than the criminally negligent, irresponsible, and reprehensible act that it was.

Posted by: ckelly on August 31, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Translation:

"I used to think that I had been pressured to play politics with homeland security alerts. But compared to the pressure I've felt over the past few weeks to recant my story, that was nothing!"

Posted by: LaFollette Progressive on August 31, 2009 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Tom Ridge never bows to pressure from republican colleagues.

Posted by: tomboy on August 31, 2009 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Nice little place you got here, Mr. Ridge. It'd be shame for sumthin' to happen to it...

Posted by: bikelib on August 31, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Whenever I hear these stories of former administration officials recanting their bombshell stories all covered in sweat, I can't help but wonder what kind of harm they've been threatened with. Are they told to think of their family? Reminded of the high incidence of small plane failures and suicide rates among ex-government officials?

Posted by: trex on August 31, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Never ever underestimate the ruthlessness of the Bush Family in its efforts to protect the family name.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on August 31, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

All that spying going on while the Bushies were in office probably resulted in some good stuff on those they don't like.

Posted by: Burghman on August 31, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

As for the former DHS chief explained, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld pressured him to raise the threat level on the eve of the 2004 election, without strong evidence to do so.

And did you notice how the extremely visible alerts became almost non-existent after the election. Living in Texas and having watched bush work for years, it was pretty apparent that was happening.

Posted by: kanopsis on August 31, 2009 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah sure - Did you see Jon Stewarts expose on the terror alert timeline? Gee Tom facts don't lie , scared shitless lying liers do.

Posted by: John R on August 31, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

..."It's literally unbelievable."
No it isn't.
That the Dems put impleachment off the table isn't either.
We got the gov-mint we deserve.
Not the one we want.

Posted by: Chopin on August 31, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I'm confused: does he want people to buy his book or not?

Posted by: Me on August 31, 2009 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

...and they like to say that Libruls are gutless. What could be more gutless than failing to stand by your convictions, after taking the entire tenure of the administration to get them?

Posted by: Mark on August 31, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I believe Ridge.

I also believe that the United States has never tortured anyone, and that the administration was honestly misled by the CIA about weapons of mass destruction, and no one could possibly have anticipated the attacks of 9/11.

Posted by: JW on August 31, 2009 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK
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