Ridge says he did not mean to suggest he was pressured to raise the threat level, and he is not accusing anyone of trying to boost Bush in the polls. “I was never pressured,” Ridge said.
We still don’t know what the book actually says, but apparently what happened is that Rumsfeld and Ashcroft urged that the alert level be raised in response to a videotape from Osama bin Laden. Noting that bin Laden’s tapes never amounted to anything, Ridge’s staff declined to do so, and Ridge wondered what they were thinking. (This is pretty much Ace’s case two.)
On the other hand, Ridge reportedly makes other allegations in his book that I’m pretty sure will stand up. Basically, the Bush administration never took homeland security seriously:
In the book, Ridge portrays his fledgling department as playing second fiddle to other Cabinet-level heavyweights. As secretary, he says he was never invited to participate in National Security Council meetings, he was left out of the information loop by the FBI and his proposal to establish Homeland Security offices in major cities such as New Orleans were rejected.
This seems pretty much inarguable. By now it’s clear that the function of Homeland Security is largely to make people feel safe, not be safe. And the neglect continues:
- He is “dumbfounded” that the government still has no way to track foreign visitors who don’t leave the country when their visas expire, noting that two of the 9/11 hijackers were in the country on expired visas.
- Government officials and members of Congress rarely discuss homeland security issues and have “lost the sense of urgency” about protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. Because of the economy and growing budget deficits, he also is worried about funding for future efforts to tighten security.
(Via the Corner.)