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Ridge: Talk of Terror-Alert Politics Exaggerated

The Associated Press reports:

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Monday people "are hyperventilating" about his assertion that politics played a role in talk of raising the terror alert before the 2004 elections.

"A consensus was reached. We didn't go up. The process worked," Ridge said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." The former Pennsylvania governor, however, did not take back the statement in his new book, "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege," that he worried at the time that politics was a consideration in discussions among high-level officials about whether to raise the color-coded terror alert to a higher level. He acknowledged there was a lively debate about it, but repeated that it was not done, and thus not an issue.

Ridge said his concern at the time of the internal Bush administration discussions was to be "absolutely certain" that divergent points of view were heard and that people had their say.

On another matter, he said he agreed with former Vice President Dick Cheney's criticism of the Obama administration's decision to conduct a review of terrorism-era detainee interrogation practices during the Bush years.

Ridge said he thought it "would be criminal" for the new administration to seek to prosecute people who likely believed they were acting within the law and with proper authority at the time the interrogations were carried out.

By Web Politics Editor  |  August 31, 2009; 10:21 AM ET
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There is one statement in this whole thing that I sort of agree with. Ridge said that the people that believed they were doing right by law should not be prosecuted. That is right to a point, it is the people that made them feel like they were acting lawfully that should be prosecuted. Maybe Cheney invited Ridge on a hunting trip, who knows? They say that polls indicate that the average person doesn't care about this mess. The poll must have been taken of people within the Bush administration. Most of the average people I know think that administration should be held accountable.

Posted by: racam | September 1, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing how many people are wandering around suddenly going "What? I can be prosecuted for that??! No way!!"

I've seen sorry political theater before, but this is exceptionally lame. Yes, America, the GOP thinks you are as dumb as dirt.

So, are you?

Posted by: nodebris | August 31, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

"Ridge said he thought it "would be criminal" for the new administration to seek to prosecute people who likely believed they were acting within the law and with proper authority at the time the interrogations were carried out."
How can you hold an electric drill to someone's head,stage a mock execution, threaten to rape their mother and kill their family in front of them then beat the guy to death and think you are operating within the law?

Posted by: JRM2 | August 31, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

So, it "would be criminal" to investigate people who have admitted, time and again, that they did what they did because they were terrified.
Yes, the Bush Administration stated over and over and over that they did what they did because they were really, and truly, and sincerely AFRAID. In a panic. Unable to function outside of a panic-mode of thought.
They were so afraid that they ended up un-afraid of admitting that they were utterly fearful and helpless in the face of that fear.
And, they expect us to accept their frightened terror as an excuse for what they did. In other words: they were terrified out of their minds, so, weren't we? Were not we ALL in such a state of terror that we simply could do nothing but respond with aggression and lies?
The current citizenry is fully aware of how Bush and Company used fear to lead us into a war, in Iraq, (NOT the right war) in order to "fill their own coffers".
And, everyday that one of them states that "we did what we did because we were so afraid", is another day when we all recognize what total cowards they were, and are.

Posted by: cms1 | August 31, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

BUT, the terror alert level DID go up--from yellow to orange if I recall correctly--on the day after the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. As soon as Bush was re-elected (assuming he was elected in the first place), it was lowered. Was it political or not? We can't say for sure, but it helped to take the wind out of Kerry's sails.

It always amazed me to see how Bush adminstration non-political actions dove-tailed so perfectly with their political strategy: invading Iraq, firing of U.S. attorneys, raising terror alert levels. . .

Posted by: writinron | August 31, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm so impressed they decided not to raise the terror alert level to increase the chances of Bush's reelection, in spite of lively debate about it. The fact such a thing was discussed at all indicates a criminal mindset was prevalent within that administration and indictments for all concerned should have been served months ago.
Ridge says, "It would be criminal" for the new administration to seek to prosecute people who likely believed they were acting within the law. I suggest his publisher offer a free pair of hip waders with every copy of his book. If it's piled this deep readers will need them.

Posted by: meand2 | August 31, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Tom, did Dick take you to the woodshed?

Posted by: jckdoors | August 31, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

MR. RIDGE: Are You Aware of THIS?


Posted by: scrivener50 | August 31, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Secretary Gump has had an epiphany: You can't lie at that level and name the names you named and get away with it. There are statutes which address libel.

Yeah, I would say someone got to him - through their lawyers.

What does he think he is, a democrat?

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | August 31, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Who got to you Ridge?? Cheney, Bush, Rush???

I won't be buying your book.

I used to like and respect you, one of only a few from the last administration that I could believe in. I always believed you were your own MAN. But now, you have proven yourself to be just another bush lemming.

Boy, what some people won't do to sell books!

Posted by: cashmere1 | August 31, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Looks like someone got a late night call from Dick Cheney...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | August 31, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Just another useless member of the Washington political class trying to sell a book. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: jdonner2 | August 31, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Ridge said he thought it "would be criminal" for the new administration to seek to prosecute people who likely believed they were acting within the law and with proper authority at the time the interrogations were carried out.


I understand this line of thinking, but let's be honest with ourselves. While the top levels of gov't sketch out these policies and interpret the law it is not defensible for any employee to break the actual law. It doesn't matter if some quack lawyer comes up with a way to justify torture, or genocide, or some other's up to the civil servant or soldier to actually follow through and that's something that they have to be held to account for. I was just following orders is not an excuse. EVER.

It didn't work for the Japanese or the Germans and it is absolutely appalling that some Americans are now attempting these same arguments. The fact that these decisions were made in the shadows says enough about their true legal footing. The fact that Congress didn't stomp this out means that those that were briefed and remained mum until it became politically tenable to raise the issue should also be tossed. Pelosi has done some really good things for our country, but she's right in the middle of this mess as well.

Posted by: theobserver4 | August 31, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

So Ridge makes these comments right before his book comes out, then creates more publicity for himself by saying "I didn't mean what I said."

As far as a publicity stunt, I think he should don a jumpsuit and stand on an aircraft carrier under a sign reading "Mission Accomplished".

Posted by: alysheba_3 | August 31, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Too late, Mr. Ridge. You are now a "target" of the very apparatus that you countenance by your cowardice. Your linguistic retreat is unbecoming, and a setback in the restoration of the rule of law. Please recalibrate once again, this time in the interest of democracy and not personal expediency.



When will the Obama administration dismantle the secretive, extrajudicial, federal-local multi-agency "coordinated action program" that is destroying the lives and livelihoods of unjustly targeted Americans...

...via covert, warrantless GPS/cell phone tracking, stalking and harassment; financial sabotage; and the deployment of silent, health degrading, "slow-kill" microwave and laser directed energy weapons...

...the weaponization of the electromagnetic spectrum...

...the Xyklon-B of a Bush-Cheney- spawned American Gestapo that continues to operate on YOUR watch -- enabled by the naivete of your apparently misinformed or deceived cabinet?

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled): RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 31, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I guess ol' buddy Tom is trying to win back an invitation to the Crawford Ranch.

Oh, I forgot: the Bushes sold that prop once there'd be no further use in pretending he wasn't born with a silver spoon lodged in some body orifice.

Posted by: trippin | August 31, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The Bush appointments of Ridge and Judge Chertoff are among the many DUMBfounding factors that led to the election of a far-far Left Executive and Congress. What was Bush "thinking?" Didn't he know anything? Now, look what Americans have got!

Posted by: HassanAliAl-Hadoodi | August 31, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

How nice. The master of nuanced color agrees with his overlord that nobody in the Bush administration did anything wrong. Its all just a matter of the rest of us not properly understanding those noble souls.

Well, those noble souls produced a pluperfect disaster, and now the other party gets to figure out how to clean it up. As a part of that clean up we want to know just who was smoking what that they ignored common sense, the best intelligence available, and fundamental moral and legal principles that any adolescent can figure out.

It is astounding that, having been voted resoundingly out of office this troop of basic incompetents gets as much media coverage as it does. Then again, how seriously does this gaggle of mentally challenged geese want to keep reminding the country of just how corrupt, incompetent, clueless and disconnected they were, and how attached to them their Party remains. Whomever the republicans nominate in 2012 gets to explain that he is going to appoint more Tom Ridges and Brownies and AGAGs, and won't that just be wonderful?

And we get to vote against them to tell them that no, that isn't wonderful AT ALL!

Posted by: ceflynline | August 31, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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