In just the latest revelatory memoir, former Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge has come clean on all those terror alerts that were issued in the weeks before the 2004 Presidential election, and it appears these were a ploy to scare the bejesus out of the electorate in order to gain support for the President. A book excerpt via TIME:
[Attorney General John] Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the treat level, and was supported by [Secertary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld. There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None. I wondered, "Is this about security or politics?" Post-election analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the president's approval rating in the days after the raising of the threat level.
"And just so it's clear: using the threat of terrorism to try to achieve political goals is, you know, what terrorists do."
Tucker Carlson -- at the height of the August, 2004, controversy triggered by Howard Dean's accusation that the Bush administration manipulated terror alerts for political gain -- labeled those who believed the alerts were being exploited for political purposes as "insane conspiracy nuts" and said: "what they really need is psychological help, obviously." Separately, Carlson said that Dean had gone "berserk" and demanded that the Kerry campaign repudiate Howard Dean for suggesting that this was the case. I've emailed Carlson and asked him:
In light of Tom Ridge's belief that this is exactly what happened -- that, as the official responsible for assessing terrorist threats, he was pressured to raise the terrorist threat alert in order to benefit Bush's re-election campaign (something he also strongly suggested in 2005 after he resigned) -- do you still believe that? Or do you merely now believe Ridge to be one of the berserk, insane conspiracy nuts in need of psychological help?
I'll post any reply I receive.
One other note is that Ridge's tell-all may have ulterior motives since he has signed on as a consultant for a security firm and also is reportedly considering a Senate campaign against Arlen Specter in 2010. Distancing himself from his role in the Bush administration may have more tangible benefits.