Ridge Takes Back Threat Level Claim in His Book

Retreats on earlier suggestion that politics played a role
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 31, 2009 10:12 AM CDT
In this March 12, 2002 file photo, Tom Ridge unveils a color-coded terrorism warning system in Washington.   (AP Photo/Joe Marquette)
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(Newser) – Former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge says the Bush administration “never pressured” him to raise the US terror threat level, backing down on a claim made in his book, USA Today reports. In the book, Ridge writes that John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld pushed him to elevate it before the 2004 election, despite “absolutely no support” from his department. “I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?'” he wrote. He now says he’s “not second-guessing my colleagues.”

In the book, he asserts that his department was treated as second-class; he wasn’t invited to National Security Council meetings and wasn’t kept informed by the FBI. He writes that Ashcroft and Rumsfeld wanted to raise the threat level after the election-season appearance of a new Osama bin Laden tape, despite the fact that such tapes emerged frequently.