(click here to see Mark's very revealing video about the phony terror alerts back in the Bush years)
This is a big deal because it's coming from the horse's mouth. Tom Ridge admits in his new book what we've known for a long time and what has been reported years ago.
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 quoting 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.
He later publicly acknowledged that much of the information underpinning the new alert was three years old, stoking Bush critics' charges of political manipulation.
Ridge also charges that he was often "blindsided" during daily morning briefings with Bush because the FBI withheld information from him, and says he was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings.
Here's what Ridge's book says:
Former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is releasing a book on September 1 titled, “The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…and How We Can Be Safe Again.” U.S. News’ Paul Bedard reports that, in the book, Ridge reveals that he considered resigning because he was urged to issue a politically-motivated security alert on the eve of Bush’s re-election:
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.
This was first reported way back when by the Washington Post in 2004:
The mixing of anti-terrorism policy with the 2004 presidential campaign is becoming destructive. It is creating a vicious cycle of hype, skepticism and mistrust that puts the country's security at risk.
The dangers of politicizing terrorism were clear in this month's announcement about potential attacks on financial centers in the New York area and in Washington. When Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge disclosed the threats on Aug. 1, he faced immediate skepticism about whether the intelligence was valid. Sadly, the Bush administration had helped create this climate of public suspicion by overusing its elaborate, color-coded system of terrorism warnings. After a terrorism advisory by Attorney General John Ashcroft last spring was pooh-poohed the same day by Ridge, some people wondered whether these warnings were being used for political effect.
Bush used the terror alerts to win the election against John Kerry and it's a breach of his oath of office as far as I'm concerned.
And don't forget about the release of the Osama Bin Laden tape right before the election. As we were getting closer to Nov. 4th, Kerry was picking up momentum before this happened.
On October 29, 2004, at 21:00 UTC, the Arab television network, Al Jazeera, broadcast excerpts from a videotape of Osama bin Laden addressing the people of the United States, in which he accepted responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks, condemns the Bush government's response to those attacks and presents those attacks as part of a campaign of revenge and deterrence motivated by his witnessing of the destruction in the Lebanese Civil War in 1982.
John Kerry admitted as much on MTP:
Senator John Kerry said on Sunday that the attacks of Sept. 11 were the "central deciding thing" in his contest with President Bush and that the release of an Osama bin Laden videotape the weekend before Election Day had effectively erased any hope he had of victory.
And we have USA TODAY reporting on this story as well.
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says. Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled. His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation's homeland security apparatus. Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under a color-coded system he unveiled in 2002