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Tom Ridge kisses and tells on Bush's 'terror levels'

By / August 20, 2009



For those who had their doubts about the politics behind the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism,” Tom Ridge’s new book will fuel long-held suspicions.

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The former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, who was the first head of the Department of Homeland Security, says two top Bush officials – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft – pressured him to up the terror alert level before the 2004 election, according to promotional materials by publisher Macmillan.

“Ridge also charges that he was often ‘blindsided’ during daily morning briefings with Bush because the FBI withheld information from him, and says he was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings,” reports AFP.

Former Bush officials have been quick to push back on Ridge’s revelation.

Frances Frago Townsend, who coordinated homeland security matters at the National Security Council under President Bush, said Ridge is “absolutely wrong” in his allegation. “Politics played no part in any discussion” of the Homeland Security Council, Ms. Townsend insists in The Atlantic.

Not surprisingly, Ridge’s news has ricocheted around cable TV, radio talk shows, and the blogosphere.

Kansas City Star columnist Yael Abouhalkah says Ridge’s “serious charges” are “scathing.”

“An abuse so gross – if Ridge is right – shows, among other things, what a powerful influence on the all-important tracking polls terror alerts must have had,” writes Ben Smith on Politico.com. “And it suggests that Obama’s efforts to keep terror arrests out of the national news are good politics too.”

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