The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pours through Tom Ridge’s new book and offers the relevant passages where the former Homeland Security chief discusses the Bush administration’s desire to increase the terror threat level for political reasons. Ridge reveals that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued in favor of raising the threat level by noting the correlation it had with Bush’s approval rating:Osama bin Laden had released a videotape with one more ominous sounding but unspecific threat against the United States. Neither Mr. Ridge nor any of the department’s security experts thought the message warranted any change in the nation’s alert status.
“…at this point there was nothing to indicate a specific threat and no reason to cause undue public alarm,” he writes.
Noting the correlation found between increases in the threat level and the president’s approval rating, Mr. Ridge writes, “I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?’”
We answered that, Tom: the answer was yes. It's just that none of you were listening to the damned dirty liberals - you all had some idea that we were just on a Bush bashing spree, and that we couldn't add 2 and 2 to obtain 4:
God forbid a journalist use simple empiricism--retrospectively matching terror alerts with reports on which they were based--to assess the terror alerts. God forbid a journalist learn that we went to Code Orange because someone claimed terrorists were going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blow torch, and from that learn to be skeptical of terror alerts going forwards. It's not as if, after all, the election eve alert was a one-off, the only alert in which the hype was later shown to be over-hype. There was a pattern. And normal human beings equipped with the gift of empiricism that apparently gets weeded out at journalism school tend to look at patterns and conclude that if a relationship consistently has happened in the past, then it probably will exist in the future.I know, I know - it's too science-y for most of you to understand. Reason, logic, simple math: all of those things are just so hard, right? And why bother thinking when the Administration was happy to feed you answers? You all might've overheated your poor noggins.
And, Tom? Before you give yourself too many pats on the back for thinking about resigning and then writing a juicy little tell-all, you might want to consider a little something Steve Benen said:
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.You certainly do. And "The dog ate my resignation letter/exposé" won't cut it. Those damned dirty liberals are smart enough to see through such brilliant excuses.