In his forthcoming book, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge reveals being pressured by Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to raise the terror alert right before the 2004 presidential election. Ridge wrote:
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. … I consider the episode to be not only a dramatic moment in Washington’s recent history, but another illustration of the intersection of politics, fear, credibility and security.
The New York Times’ Peter Baker notes that Ridge’s new claim is a reversal from his previous statements:
Until now, he has denied politics played a role in threat levels. Asked by Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times if politics ever influenced decisions on threat warnings, he volunteered to take a lie-detector test. “Wire me up,” Mr. Ridge said, according to Mr. Lichtblau’s book, “Bush’s Law.” “Not a chance. Politics played no part.”
Like Scott McClellan, Richard Clarke, Matthew Dowd, Paul O’Neill, and many others before him, Tom Ridge is getting ripped by loyal Bushies for speaking out. An Ashcroft spokesman said, “Now would be a good time for Mr. Ridge to use his emergency duct tape.”