Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Annals of Shamles...s......n.............e....................... 

Honestly, I almost don't have the energy to finish typing that word.

However, despite the embarrassment of shameless riches this administration continues to contribute to our national dialogue, as Bush & Co continues to pull justifications, ideology, policy, and religion out of its annal, when yet another example surfaces we have a duty to make note.
Ridge reveals clashes on alerts
By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — 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.

Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.


Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under a color-coded system he unveiled in 2002.

"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' "

For what,indeed? No, the story makes no mention of the issue of political motivations around the timing of the alerts, and contents itself with the technical questions involved in issuing alerts; among all the candidates for Ridge-clashers, only Ashcroft is mentioned by name. Ridge hesitated to issue multiple alerts because he knew that meant a lot of hassle and diversion of funds for local and state governments, and he also felt that too heavy an emphasis on the alerts would dilute their impact. No kidding. On the other hand, the public was disenamoured of the whole system right from the beginning.

I happened to catch Ridge Monday night on the Daily Show and he was adamant about denying any political motivation on the part of those within the administration who were alert-happy, so don't expect this story to go anywhere near that wagging dog tail; this isn't that down and dirty Clinton administration of whom all journalists were rightfully suspicious.

On the other hand, there is a lesson to be learned here, about the ways in which Rove/Bush & Co are often smarter than we are. Undoubtedly they knew the alerts were not being well-received, and were even being laughed at, but they also knew that those alerts contributed, even if only below the surface of consciousness, to an atmosphere of fear, a wartime atmosphere which was going to prove essential in the 2004 campaign. What they also knew was that they would never be called on the political use of those alerts by anyone who mattered in the SCLM. That, my friends, is how they get away with it again, and again, and ag........

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