The Threat Level Remains Unchanged

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has a book coming out in which he says the Bush administration politicized the terror alert system — Tom Ridge: I Fought Against Raising Security Threat Level On The Eve Of 2004 Election. Everyone is very excited about this revelation.

But this isn't really news, is it? Didn't Ridge say more or less the same thing in 2005:

The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

And Ridge did it anyway one way or another. He sat there and allowed the national security apparatus to be abused for political gain. He made the country less safe by allowing false alarms. He gave the terrorists free victories they didn't even have to work for. And then he and Cheney trashed Howard Dean and anyone else daring to say it was the unprincipled slimy political move it turns out to be.

Once upon a time we had a concept of “disgrace”. People with money, power, office, social position, actually cared about whether they acted dishonorably, because if they did they wouldn't get invited to corporate boards and dinner parties. People would cross the street to show their disdain. Now we give them book contracts, TV deals, visiting professorships, and they get interviewed as experts by the media.

Maybe it's time to bring the notion of respectability back. If we won't have public justice to sort out truth from fiction, no special prosecutors until after the statute of limitations has run, maybe instead we need a quiet form of the private personal justice we can manage based on the facts on the public record. Shun Ridge. Shun Yoo. Shun Rove. Shun Gonzales. Shun all the torturers and torture enablers, and shun the perverters of law and justice. Don't ever put anything their way. Don't give them a visiting gig. Don't invite them on TV. Don't buy their books. And make it contagious. Make them professional lepers. Make the people who give them treats sorry they did it.

But it won't happen. Not because there's always the risk that social shunning gets out hand, brings out the worst in some people who then punish the innocent, for all that these are real and demonstrated dangers not to be taken lightly. No, it won't happen because the people who put those unprincipled traitors to law and decency in power and who then coined it thanks to their connivance at kleptocracy hope to do it again and again and again. And that means that even used and dishonored tools need to be kept on financial life support so as not to discourage their successors.

Angry? I'm beyond angry. I'm tired of angry.

Nixon was a piker. He kept cash in a safe. These guys moved it by the airplane load.

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11 Responses to The Threat Level Remains Unchanged

  1. Rhodo Zeb says:

    These guys moved it by the airplane load.

    What? How do you think they are going to pay for the next election they win?


  2. Tom Degan says:

    Sure, they exploited America’s utter post 9/11 paranoia for the most base political reasons. Ridge’s book is not news. The only thing newsworthy is the fact that someone who was in the know is finally admitting it. He should have written his book five years ago.

    I knew what was going on in the hours leading up to the election of 2004. It was so freaking obvious, you had to be an idiot to miss it.

    On the first posting on my blog on June 2, 2006, I wrote the following:

    “PREDICTION: George W. Bush will be remembered in history, primarily, as the first (pray last) former chief executive to go to federal prison. Sound crazy? Stay tuned.”

    I stand by those words.

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  3. Just me says:

    Michael: I mostly agree with you, but I find that forgiveness for those who are truly sorry (not saying that Ridge is or is not), encourages justice and good government as much as anything else. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Ridge has a genuine sense of regret for his part in the Bush administration’s shenanigans. And, let’s say that he now wishes to crusade to shed light on the issues in an attempt to right the wrongs and make sure they are not repeated. We should not shun him. Rather, we should accept him and encourage others to do the same. Otherwise, we are effectively encouraging the repetition of the wrong.

    Just my $0.02.

  4. dick hendricks says:

    Fran Townsend basically confirmed Ridge’s (not so) new statements from his new book, this morning in a TV interview. She stated that raising the threat level was discussed(confirmation, part 1); that the political effects of changing the threat level was discussed(confirmation, part 2); that it was decided that raising the level MIGHT have an unwanted negative effect on Bush’s election….so they left the level where it was….although they wanted to raise it….thereby manipulating the political process by inaction.
    Bush’s people thought the new(?) Bin Laden tape was sufficient to raise the threat level. More sane minds disagreed, and prevailed.
    Ridge’s basis allegation now is that the Bush Administration, at that time just before the 2004 Presidential election, made its’ decision about the threat level, vis a vis the Bin Laden tape, based on political considerations……Townsend confirms that Ridge allegation. She simply turns the view of it backwards….or spins it….as some people now like to say. She is saying, we did not act out of political considerations, instead, she says we elected to not act, out of political considerations.

  5. Chris says:

    It is upsetting because terror alerts scare the public. This should have never been used to promote their political agendas.

  6. fishbane says:

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Ridge has a genuine sense of regret for his part in the Bush administration’s shenanigans. And, let’s say that he now wishes to crusade to shed light on the issues in an attempt to right the wrongs and make sure they are not repeated. We should not shun him. Rather, we should accept him and encourage others to do the same.

    Where do you stand on genuinely contrite murderers?

    I’m not calling calling Ridge (or anyone else) a murderer, I’m asking a question on what you see as the relative roles of retribution, rehabilitation, and signaling. Do you make a distinction between politicians and “garden variety” criminals?

  7. Guest says:

    Well, this is similar to how Obama claimed something to the effect that “all economists agree the stimulus is necessary.” Since then, the Cato Institute Published several full page ads with names of economists when Obama has said something is a settled matter.

    Only problem now is Obama and Bernake are probably leading us into a hyperinflationary hell by seizing upon and expanding Bush era ideals (big government, no accountability, idiotic monetary policy).

  8. chipher says:

    The war of occupation in Afghanistan, now in its eighth year, is clearly a resource war. As Karzai’s first term in office came to an end in May, the Afghan Supreme Court extended his term to August in an unprecedented move, allegedly because national elections campaigns security werenÂ’t ready to get underway! Yet at the same time, MoM hired the US resource management advisor Gustavson Associates to issue a private short-list call for interest, ahead of privately negotiations for auction of the world-class iron ore and coke reserves, and the oil and gas deposits, in the billions of barrels and trillions of cubic feet.

    Right now, as Afghanistan-Pakistan media is dominated with the humanitarian crisis in Swat, and the upcoming presidential elections, and the US military news is dominated by ‘clear and hold,’ Fallujah style, the extended-term-by-edict Karzai is preparing to sign away almost $700B dollars worth of Afghan natural resources, for mere pennies on the dollar.

    Here’s how it would work. The national government in Kabul has swollen to nearly a $B a year bureaucracy, according to foreign observers. But royalties from the iron ore concession, copper concession and oil and gas leases will amount to little more than a billion dollars per year, just enough to support the national government, the national army and national police force, and repay interest-only on the loans made to Afghanistan by IMF and the World Bank.

    Horrifyingly tidy and efficient, when you think about it, everything neatly signed into law, protected by US occupation forces ‘surge’, extracted at just those royalties necessary to keep the national government, army and militia in power, and leave the Afghan people in thirty years just another destitute, resource-stripped, smoking moonscape, narcostate.

    Afghans Dream of Energy and Agricultural Independence

    Instead of resource appropriation by the occupying forces, the Afghan people can take a different path, one with a renewable future, and I will describe how using published cost data.

    IEA estimates Pakistan uses 345,000 barrels of oil per day. Afghanistan has about 1/10th the population of Pakistan, so it’s reasonable to expect that Afghanistan would consume only 40,000 barrels of oil per day. The US consumes 21 million tons of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer per year, and has about 400 million acres of arable land in farm production. Afghanistan has about 1/20th the arable irrigated land as the US, so itÂ’s reasonable to expect that Afghanistan would consume only 1 million tons of ammonia per year.

    Latest USGS estimates say there are 1.6 billion barrels of crude oil underneath Afghanistan’s sands and 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough oil for Afghan people to achieve total energy independence for the next 100 years, and enough natural gas to produce their demand for ammonia fertilizer for the next 300 years, using the Haber-Bosch Process.

    Afghanistan has within its own lands total energy and agricultural security for more than a century! Why are World Bank and IMF auctioning off these resources for 2c on the $1!?

    With energy and agricultural independence, supplemented by the minerals royalties and humanitarian reconstruction aid for the war damage foisted on them by world super-powers, the Afghan people could rebuild their Garden of Eden themselves, and become an exporting powerhouse! All it would take is design, planning and construction of a 50,000 barrel per day oil refinery in Afghanistan, and a 1 million ton per year anhydrous ammonia fertilizer plant, by taking the oil and gas sale off the table now, before any extraction leases are signed.

    What would a new 50,000 barrel per day refinery cost? Make Oil Company of Lebanon was to start building a $3 billion, 250,000 b/d refinery in Kurdistan in 2006, and Make Oil Company bid for a $2.2 billion, 150,000 b/d refinery in Iraq. Then a 50,000 b/d refinery in Afghanistan would cost about $1 billion, over three years of construction, easily paid for by $3.2B China MCC signing payment, or using only a portion of the $800 million a year in royalties expected from Afghan minerals mining concessions.

    That 1 million tons per year anhydrous ammonia plant? In Algeria, ASMIDAL Group, its trading partner Transammonia Inc., and the German engineering firm Ferrostaal AG signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to build a 600,000-t/yr joint-venture ammonia plant. The new facility was expected to be sited in Arzew near two existing ammonia units with a combined capacity of about 550,000 t/yr. Estimated project cost was $370 million. In Indonesia, PT Kaltim Parna Industri, a joint venture between Japanese firms Mitsubishi Corp. (55%) and Asahi Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. (10%) and the Indonesian companies PT Parna Raja (25%) and PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur (Kaltim) (10%), started construction of a $240 million ammonia plant in Bontang, East Kalimantan. The project, which had been postponed since 1997, was scheduled for completion in 2002. Capacity at the plant was projected to be 495,000 t/yr. And in Oman, Suhail Bahwan Group announced that it would construct an ammonia-urea complex in the Sohar industrial area. The new plant would have a design capacity of 2,000 t/d of ammonia [750,000 metric tons per year] and 2,600 t/d of granular urea. The estimated cost of the plant was between $450 and $500 million.

    Clearly, AfghanistanÂ’s energy and agricultural independence can be secured for a century for $1.5B!

    This is a fraction of current US:ISAF spending on the military occupation. Did global policy planners at the IMF and World Bank even consider this option? Of course not! Western ‘humanitarian’ policy requires dependent clients. They need ‘failed states’ in order to grow their ‘emergency fundingÂ’, which can only be ‘fixedÂ’ with more US:EU taxpayer dollars.

    And that’s the truth.

  9. Just me says:

    Fishbane: briefly, politicians and dime-a-dozen criminals are not the same (at least not in this country) for one fundamental reason, we elected politicians to do our business through a fair and representative (although imperfect) system. We (not each and everyone of us as individuals, but society as defined through our electoral system) wanted the Bush administration to do more or less exactly what they did. This is confirmed by the fact we re-elected those clowns in 2004.

    Common criminals act on their own, for their own cause, and with the consent of none. Politicians act with the consent of (and arguably at the direction of) the governed.

    Its a lot more complicated than that, I know, but this is just a blog and I am just a commenter trying to briefly answer your question without eating up my whole Saturday.

  10. Rhodo Zeb says:


    Sorry, the Cato Institute is not credible on economic issues, or much else actually.

    They have destroyed whatever credibility they might have had. All their economists are wingnuts of various ‘libertarian’ stripes. Ideologically, they are as unmoored as the GOP, having always traveled in those waters.

    Whatever you read there as far as economic predictions, you can bet the result will be the opposite.

    Hyperinflation? Gimme a break. The problem now is deflating real estate assets and no jobs. Where is the inflation going to come from?

  11. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Ah, great luck. Brad DeLong links to Bruce Bartlett who mentions:

    As economist William Poole of the libertarian Cato Institute said last November, “I hold the market responsible for the financial crisis.

    Not. Credible.

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