Tom Ridge: “Politically Motivated” White House Pushed me to Raise Threat Level ABC News 8/20/09

Tom Ridge: “Politically Motivated” White House Pushed me to Raise Threat Level

August 20, 2009 1:00 PM

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge reveals in a new book details of life under President Bush.

Among the bombshells? Ridge admits that he was pressured to raise the terror alert to help Bush win re-election in 2004.

US News & World Report says Ridge, in a forthcoming book titled “The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again,” says he was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election and that he saw the move at politically motivated and worth resigning over.

Among other headlines in the book reported by US News: 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.

The book, due out this fall, will be published by Thomas Dunne Books.

Using fear of terrorism

for political purposes is itself terrorism. This is a bombshell but it's not surprising. According to Ridge, both Rumsfeld and Ashcroft pushed the DHS to raise the terror threat levels just before the 2004 election. This ploy had already been used several times before for political advantage. (Bush approval would go up momentarily whenever the terror threats were raised). If I recall correctly, the terror level was raised just after the '04 Democratic Convention as well. I said this was done deliberately to kill the bump-- now it seems I was right.

Several curious things happened relating to the 2004 election: US Operative Osama bin Laden surfaces 4 days prior to the election after years in hiding. This threw undecided voters to Bush, or at least provided a plausible reason for the sudden shift to come in Ohio. Ridge was pressured to raise the terror alert levels prior to the election for political reasons-- which were never raised again. Fishy, fishy.

Diebold voting machines deliver the key swing state of Ohio to Bush despite the fact that Kerry was leading in the polls in that state by a 4 percent + margin and even by the same amount in exit polling on election day. Yet Bush wins Ohio by roughly the same margin. Not even really close. (Interestingly, the Diebold CEO was a Republican who promised to "do the right thing," and "deliver Ohio."

Of course I hated Kerry too. Just goes to show that fear and terror were exploited by BushCo. This was their MO for grabbing and expanding executive power to achieve their goals.

Politicization of the terror alerts.

Glenn Greenwald wrote an excellent piece here regarding the politicization of the terror alerts. Though he writes about how journalists were compliant to the Bush Administration in regards to terror warnings and the Iraq war, it is equally applicable to 9/11 as well.

An excerpt: "But that is how our political culture works. Throughout the Bush years, those who said demonstrably true things were continuously dismissed as fringe, conspiracy-driven leftist-losers: those who questioned whether Saddam really had WMDs; those who argued that the invasion of Iraq would lead to long-term military bases in that country; those who worried that warrantless eavesdropping and Patriot Act powers would lead to abuses; those who opposed the war in Afghanistan on the ground that it would be drag on for years with no resolution, etc. etc. Having been proven right about all of those things hasn't changed perceptions any at all."

Raise Threat Level for political purposes

Not news to most of us who have been paying close attention but the fact is now reaching the general population.

An Article from 2005

Just for the record, here's an article from May of 2005, after Tom Ridge had resigned as head of Homeland Security:

Even back then, he was blaming the Bush administration and not Homeland Security for the elevated and unwarranted terror alerts. What's new this time is that he is going on record saying the true motivation was political. For anyone with any common sense, this was pretty obvious at the time. At least we now have Tom Ridge's public confirmation.

Raising terror alert for Bush re-election may be criminal, Nixon

Raising terror alert for Bush re-election may be criminal, Nixon adviser says

By David Edwards and John Byrne

Published: August 21, 2009

A former senior adviser to President Richard Nixon says an alleged Bush Administration effort to raise terror alerts around the time of the 2004 election could be criminal if true.

Speaking on MSNBC’s Countdown’s, former Nixon counsel John Dean discussed the implications of former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge’s assertion that Bush administration officials pressured him into raising the terror threat level from yellow to orange on the eve of the 2004 presidential election.

“If there was pressure, if you do manipulate an agency of government, it is a criminal offense,” Dean said. “This is one of the things that caught a lot of people in Watergate. It’s a conspiracy to defraud the government under title 18 USC 371, one as I say, a lot of people learned painfully… If you try to have a department do something that it’s not supposed to do and it’s doing it for political reasons, you can go to jail for that.

“I think [former Homeland Security Secretary Tom] Ridge has hedged this,” Dean remarked. “He’s been careful. But he certainly suggested he might have gotten information that indicated this was the reason that he had concerns.”

The Bush Administration didn’t, in fact, raise terror alerts on the eve of the 2004 vote. But the absence of an actual alert doesn’t discount criminal activity, Dean said.

“If somebody actually conspired to do this an overt act was made, pressure was made and didn’t get the pressure to succeed, it wouldn’t any way diminish the crime,” Nixon’s onetime lawyer remarked. “Looking at this in a broader context if this was the conduct and history reveals to me the conduct, these people got away with a crime.”

Dean said, however, that the statute of limitations for prosecuting political pressure on terror alerts had likely passed.

Dean was counsel to President Nixon, and became widely known after he testified to Congress about an effort to cover-up White House connections to a break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate hotel.

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Aug. 20, 2009.