Ridge says he was pushed to raise terror alert before election

August 21, 2009

The nation’s first Homeland Security secretary is airing some dirty laundry from the Bush administration: He says he was pushed to raise the terror alert level on the eve of the 2004 presidential election.

The level was never raised but Tom Ridge reveals how threats of terrorism were used to influence voters in his upcoming book ”The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege … and How We Can Be Safe Again”.

According to the promotion material released by the book’s publisher, Ridge said the DHS was pressured to connect homeland security to the international “war on terror”. He also said he effectively thwarted a plan to raise the alert level before the 2004 election, which Bush won.

Several other Bush administration officials disagree with Ridge’s characterization. Former Homeland Security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend called it “way off base”. She said there was a debate about raising the alert level at that time but politics were never discussed at that meeting.

Politico quotes former White House chief of staff Andy Card saying the Bush administration was very disciplined in its efforts to make sure politics did not influence national security decisions.

So were politics involved? What do you think?

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar (Ridge addresses 2008 Republican National Convention)


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It wouldn’t surprise me. On the night of the election (before polls were all closed), I saw on the BBC news website that tours of duty for 1500 US soldiers in Iraq were being extended 3 months. But I couldn’t find a mention on any of the US websites I checked that night. The news finally showed up in US media a couple days after the election.

Posted by Leslie | Report as abusive

What!?!? The Bush administration might have used fear to advance it’s political agenda?
No way!! Ummm….. delicious sarcasm.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

How much more do we have to hear about the Bush administration abuses before someone is held accountable? terrorizing American citizens by changing the alert level calls for an immediate investigation , if true. There is a related post at http://iamsoannoyed.com/?page_id=588

Posted by carlyt | Report as abusive

Fear mongering is the Republican motto. And, I find it very interesting that no one is screaming, fighting and yelling about the thug baller, crooked Bush administration and comparing him to Hitler. He damaged so many lives and brought down the U.S. in eight years, but in just seven months, we expect miracles out of the Obama administration. Very interesting.

Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

umm, i think the word that best sums this is up is… DUUH!!!

Posted by hassan | Report as abusive

I just watched a clip of Fran Townsend on CNN saying that she was involved in the discussions about raising the threat level warning, and that “there was no discussion of politics whatsoever.”

In her very next sentence, she starts describing how some officials present in the meetings discussed whether raising the threat level warning would actually “be to the detriment of President Bush, because people might percieve it as being political.”

To recap- First she says there was no discussion of politics whatsoever, then she goes on to describe how they discussed the political risks in issuing the warning. Without even blinking an eye.

Townsend’s story actually confirms everything Ridge says in his book, and yet, here she is, denying and then confirming all of it in one appearance. Amazing.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

It is upsetting because terror alerts scare the public. This should have never been used to promote their political agendas.

All this to sell a book. Whatever! I can’t wait until the future authors tell their “tales” too about the current administration. It is going to be the most corrupt administration in history. We are getting a glimpse of it now. They are Chicago thugs…

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Bush and friends used the words terror and wmd so many times it was ridiculous, to scare people, and it worked, because we have so many gullible cretins in our midst. Judith Miller wrote about 12 articles in the NYT, using information from Chalabi and others opposed to Saddam, essentially promoting the invasion, using lies and innuendo. Ironically enough, the U.S. has instigated more terror throughout the world than all countries combined to further their imperialist agenda, i.e. Iraq, Nicaraugua, Viet Nam, Grenada, Panama, Columbia, and the list goes on. Our good buddy Israel, which gets nearly 6 billion per year and other military aid, also terrorizes Palestinians and Lebanese, then calls them terrorists. Typical. Bush stated in an interview, which I witnessed, that he was not concerned with Osama Bin Laden, after 9-11, when he was coercing everyone to let him invade Iraq. Dick Cheney told a reporter in 1994 that the reason Poppy Bush did not go after Suddam is that we would get involved in a quagmire due to the differing factions such as Sunnis and Shiites. I witnessed that statement, also. If that does not tell you that they lied constantly, then you refuse to listen.

Posted by chomskisright | Report as abusive

Whatever! I can’t wait until the future authors tell their “tales” too about the current administration. It is going to be the most corrupt administration in history.
They are Chicago thugs…

In other news, “Aide to Former House Republican Leader Indicted in Abramoff Case.”

Yeah, whatever.

Posted by jsamuel | Report as abusive

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Yes the few Bush fans still out there will blow this off and salivate while they wait for some scandal to erupt out of the Obama administration. Nothing seems to shake their devotion to a president about who every day brings to light some shady dealings or lies. Some on the right are just waiting and hoping for Obama to screw up. Just the positive attitude we need to move our country forward. I remember not to long ago if you said or published any thing that was critical of Bush or his policies you were branded as un-patriotic and un-american. Now the right is adopting the “it’s patriotic to disagree with the government” stance but when Bush was in charge they followed along like good little sheep. What’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh yes …. hypocrite.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Eric you miss the point. This story is about selling a book. All administrations have dirty little tales about the inner workings of the White House. Okay, fine. It isn’t so much about being “a Bush fan” or being a “hypocrite”. But we won’t know the truth about any administration until the White House documents are released 20 or so years later. Until then, it is just a person who is writing a book and needs to sell it to make money. Simple as that.

However, there are those, like you, who take that book as gospel. Well, the tide will turn on this administration and the “Chicago thugs” how are running it. It will be you who will defend the current administration, because that is what you do by breaking it down to such a simple ideology rather than to look at the bigger picture by realizing “all” administrations are the same. This one will be no different.

So quit salivating over this. What goes around, comes around…

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

This story is not about selling a book, it’s about how the Secretary of Homeland Security is admitting the Bush administration used the so-called terror alert level as a political tool. For people who defend the Bushies, regardless of facts, the only option here is to try and change the subject to the sales of books. When Paul O’Niell and Richard Clarke came out with their books, it was the same chorus from the right about selling books. They couldn’t dispute the content of those books, however.

Posted by jsamuel | Report as abusive

Actually TC I don’t bother with these types of books. My point was that are still people out there, like yourself if you want to make this personal, who will defend the Bush administration to bitter indictment filled end. You know as well as I do that Bush and Cheney will fight any disclosure of documents pertaining to their eight years office even twenty years from now. The same way Bush 43 has tried to cover up documents from Bush 41′s term in office. Don’t deny it, it was one of the first things he did upon being elected.

Once again you speak in broad terms and classifications that fit your view of those who disagree with you. The reality is that know very little about me or my views on government corruption or any thing else for that matter.

I do find it telling that you felt the need to respond to my post personally as if I had hit a nerve…….

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Actually Eric, you made it personal because you were responding directly to my post even if you don’t want to admit it. So, don’t be a hypocrite.

No Eric, you do not know the truth of this. Every single time this democratic administration tries to dig up dirt on the last 8 years, they come up empty handed and the headline of a story goes away. That simply says they have nothing, nothing at all, even if people like you want to believe an author of a new book who needs to make money. I don’t blame Ridge, he is an opportunist, like all politicians are. This story will go away too, just like the Scott McClellan book did.

As I said earlier, every administration has their critics and that’s fine, but Bush did no more and no less than anyone before him. Whatever, Obama will have this critics too and people who are going to profit off some sordid tale…

Right back at you with knowing about my views on government corruption or anything else…You really are a hypocrite. It’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black…

As for hitting a nerve, you are too easy…

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

eric h ,the impression that i have, when it comes to full disclosure,the democrats just want to cherry pick what should be disclosed. Cheney has not tried to object to any files only that the total story is revealed including the ones that justified their successes. The latest witch hunt, will cover material that has already been involved in a full investigation on a none partisan basis.Not good enough for the democrats they what to use some one who is sympathetic to them. What happened to the case against the armed black panthers stopping people being able to vote? something else you want to over look?

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive