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.