Tom Ridge, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, has his own tell-some book coming out this fall, and following common practice, his publisher is leaking some of the material beforehand to get people talking.
Which, as you see, can be an effective strategy.
According to Paul Bedard at U.S. News & World Report, Ridge claims to have protested in vain at the hiring of FEMA Director Michael Brown, he of Katrina infamy. Ridge also writes that he was “pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.”
Except, of course, he didn’t resign.
But let’s take a look back at 2004, shall we? And what do we find? Among other things, we find this AP story dated Aug. 4 of that year.
“WASHINGTON – The politics of terrorism has Democrats tied in knots.
Each time President Bush raises fears of a possible attack, the political debate shifts from his most troublesome issue (Iraq) to one of his strongest (the war on terrorism) while Democrats fight their impulse to question the president’s motives.
The advantages of incumbency were in full display Sunday, when Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned of possible al-Qaida terrorist attacks to financial institutions in New York City, Washington and Newark, N.J.
The information was obtained in the past 36 to 72 hours, officials said Sunday, increasing anxieties about a potential strike. The Bush administration let a 24-hour news cycle pass before acknowledging that most of the intelligence, while recently obtained, was three or four years old.
“I am concerned that every time something happens that’s not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism,” former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean said Sunday.
Similar doubts were raised privately by John Kerry’s senior advisers, top Democrats in Congress and even some senior Republicans who privately questioned Ridge’s timing. The announcement came three days after the close of the Democratic National Convention, which helped increase Kerry’s terrorism-fighting poll ratings and less than two weeks after a scathing report by the Sept. 11 Commission.
The administration on Tuesday issued a blanket condemnation of anybody who questions the rationale behind the warnings. Ridge said the old intelligence was updated in January, but he didn’t provide details to satisfy his skeptics.
“We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland of Security,” he said.
One top GOP operative, who works closely with Bush’s political team, said the White House appeared to overplay its hand, and voters may smell politics behind the warning. A senior U.S. intelligence official said there is no doubt that the United States is in constant danger, but he was concerned enough about the timing of the announcement to ask colleagues in a weekend meeting, “Why? Why now? Why are we raising alarms about this now?”
Using the official national-security apparatus of the U.S. government to falsely heighten the fears of the American people, and to do so for purely political purposes.
Isn’t that lovely?