Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, has written a book. Ridge served as the first Secretary of Homeland Security, a governmental agency established after 9/11 and best known for its color coded terror alerts.
There are some interesting, but not particularly surprising, revelations in this book. For instance, despite having stated in 2004, “We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security”, Ridge now charges that he was pressured by Rumsfeld and Ashcroft to raise the terror alert just prior to the 2004 election (in which Bush ran for re-election) in order to help Bush win. Administration officials claimed to have intelligence which warranted the change in alert level but the information was found to be three or four years old. (Rumsfeld dismissed the allegations in a statement he made Thursday.) Ridge objected and saw the request as politically motivated and worth resigning over, according to the book. He resigned on November 30, 2004.
If something about this situation sounds vaguely familiar, it is because this is another incidence in which the Bush Administration manipulated intelligence to further its political agenda much as they did in claiming to have information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to drum up public support for a war in that country.
It’s a sad reality that nothing the Bush Administration did surprises me anymore. From stomping on the constitution in order to justify torture to firing federal attorneys who didn’t toe the political line to spying on our own citizens, the Bush crew never let little things like laws or ethics get in the way of reaching their political goals.
Ridge also says that the FBI withheld information from him, effectively “blindsiding” him in morning Oval Office meeting, and he was not invited to attend National Security Meetings.
Ridge was born in 1945 and grew up in veteran’s housing in Erie, Pennsylvania. His father was a meat salesman who sold shoes on the weekend. He graduated from Harvard University and the Dickinson School of Law, is a Vietnam vet and was awarded the Bronze Star.
He served as Erie’s Republican campaign organizer for George H. W. Bush during his failed presidential campaign in 1980 and was repaid two years later when the Bush family supported Ridge’s run for House of Representative in 1982 in a historically Democratic district, a contest which he won by only 729 votes. Ridge went on to serve six terms in the House of Representatives before being elected Governor of Pennsylvania in 1994.
Since leaving public service, he has served on the boards of Home Depot, Exelon Corp, and Hershey, among others. Ridge was widely believed to be a front-runner among potential running mates for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
It’s easy to see that Ridge’s entire career is based in partisan politics. Does it come as a shock to anyone then that, at some point, he would be called upon to do a “favor” or two for the people who put him in his position?
Too bad Ridge’s moral compass didn’t fully function until five years later. Imagine the effect this revelation could have had on the election of 2004?
Ridge’s book will be released on September l, 2009. It’s entitled “The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege…and How We Can Be Safe Again”. His publicist states that Ridge is out of town and will not be doing interviews until the book is released.