New Coward Confirms it: Republicans Politicized Terrorism!


Here's a report that, if the story behind it is true, is both totally unsurprising and worthy of our notice and contempt:

In his new book, the first Homeland Security chief, Tom Ridge, accuses top aides to President George W. Bush of pressing him to raise the terror alert level to influence the 2004 presidential election.

Ridge, a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, says that he refused the entreaty just before the election from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to a summary of the book from publisher Thomas Dunne Books.

"After that episode, I knew I had to follow through with my plans to leave the federal government for the private sector," Ridge, who resigned soon after the election where Bush defeated Democrat John F. Kerry, writes in "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege … And How We Can Be Safe Again."

More details at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Publisher's blurb here.

You're a true patriot, Tom Ridge. When faced with senior administration officials deliberately trying to scare the crap out of the American people to win an election–a tar-and-featherable offense, at minimum–not only did you decide to eventually quit some day, you rushed out and told citizens about their duplicitous leaders in just five short years! For profit!

A banal point to remember, but foundational: Government is materially incentivized to frighten you, about everything. Power–surprise!–corrupts, no matter which set of angels happens to be exercising it this year. Which is why some of us don't gladly give the stuff over to Washington, D.C.

For more on the eternal politics of scaremongering, see Nick Gillespie's classic, "You know, this used to be a helluva good country." And for a fat archive criticizing the Department of Homeland Security back when the respectable consensus assured us of its necessity, start here.

UPDATE: The artist formerly known as Lonewacko points out in the comments that (as LW blogged at the time), Ridge was telling a similar story to USA Today back in May 2005.