Tom Ridge on the Bush Terrorism Alert Code

Tom Ridge on the Bush Terrorism Alert Code

Tom Ridge, first Secretary of Homeland Security, says the G.W. Bush administration pressured him to raise the public terrorism Threat Level before the 2004 elections and for other politically-motivated reasons, when objective measures indicated no increased threats. He refused. His book detailing the charges comes out soon.

Mr. Ridge says the pre-election pressure came from Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Understandably, GOP critics are attacking the charge (Rhetorical Threat Level Orange) and asking why Mr. Ridge didn’t resign his post as DHS Secretary back in 2004 if he was so aghast. In fact, within months of his 2005 resignation, Mr. Ridge did complain about being over-ruled on elevating Threat Level warnings by other members of the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

DHS has been re-examining the utility of the color-coded “Threat Level” system, and Mr. Ridge’s charges lend weight to the argument to scrap the whole thing.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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3 Responses to “Tom Ridge on the Bush Terrorism Alert Code”

  1. hg Says:

    But the threat level was not changed…whats your point? This all the liberals have to entertain their feeble minds?

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    hg wrote: But the threat level was not changed….

    Before the 2004 election. It was changed several other times for political motives, over the objections of Gov. Ridge. He said so in 2005, when he didn’t even have a book to sell.

    Manipulations of the threat level required a majority of the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council and agreement of President Bush. The Council included Ridge, John Ashcroft, Robert Mueller, George Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell. Do you seriously think the process was de-politicized after Chertoff replaced Ridge, Alberto Gonzales replaced Ashcroft, and Condoleezza Rice replaced Powell?

  3. Chico Brisbane Says:

    I watched Ridge do a complete 180 on The Rachel Maddow Show. It’s amazing that a guy that has been thrown under the bus by the former administration as many time as he has, that he can still be put in check. That someone can still reach out to him and apply the same pressure that he wrote about in his book.

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