Ridge confirms fears about politicized alerts

RIDGE CONFIRMS FEARS ABOUT POLITICIZED ALERTS…. In 2005, former Homeland Security chief Tom 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 said, ‘For that?'” Ridge told reporters.

While Republicans used to insist that it was cynical of Bush’s detractors to question these alerts — what kind of monstrous president would politicize threats of terrorism on American soil? — it was hardly a stretch to think the then-president saw advantages to scaring the bejesus out of the public. The alerts did, after all, give Bush’s campaign for a second term a boost, while helping the Bush administration acquire more unchecked power.

We were told, at the time, that only deranged liberals could take these accusations seriously. No president, the political establishment said, would do such a thing.

It looks like the deranged liberals may have been right. Paul Bedard reports this week that Ridge, hoping to shake up “public complacency,” is dishing the dirt in his new book.

[T]o do that, well, he needs to tell all. Especially about the infighting he saw that frustrated his attempts to build a smooth-running department. Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: 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. [emphasis added]

Now, this is a paraphrase of Ridge’s perspective in a book that hasn’t been published. It’ll be interesting to see exactly what he has to say on this subject.

At this point, based on the publisher’s teaser, it looks like another serious black eye for the Bush/Cheney team.

As for Ridge, I also look forward to seeing his explanation for why he didn’t resign. If, in 2004, he saw first-hand instances of Bushies toying with public fears, manipulating terrorist alerts for political reasons, and said nothing, Ridge is just as responsible as the rest of the former president’s team, if not more so. If he knew this was happening, but stayed on the job and waited five years to tell the truth, Ridge has some explaining to do.