Ridge Softens Critique of Bush Terror Alerts

Aug 31, 2009 8:34am

ABC News’ Huma Khan reports: Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said on “Good Morning America” today that there is a lot of “hyperventilating” about the suggestion in his new book that the terror threat level was raised five days before the 2004 election for political reasons. The former Pennsylvania governor noted in his book that President Bush’s popularity saw a three-point increase every time the threat level went up but Ridge said the issue was discussed and at the end, the threat level was not raised. “A lot of people are hyperventilating about that passage, even though there’s about 300 pages and historical reflection what I think we did right and missteps and what to do in the future,” Ridge said on “Good Morning America” Monday. “This is one of several times that the process worked. People expressed their opinions, General Ashcroft, Attorney General Ashcroft, Secretary Rumsfeld expressed their opinions.” “In the context of that day, in the context of what happened in Madrid, in the context of what happened earlier that year — At the end of the day, I had to be absolutely certain that we’re on the right path, the process worked. We didn’t go up. And it was designed nobody could pressure anybody to do anything. A consensus was reached. We didn’t go up,” he added. Ridge’s new book, “The Test of Our Times” hits stores Tuesday. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, through a spokesperson, has called Ridge’s story “nonsense” and said that it would be pretty reasonable for senior administration officials to discuss the threat level given the circumstances surrounding al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Ridge agreed with former Vice President Dick Cheney that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to allow a review into whether any CIA officers crossed the line in their interrogations of detainees is wrong. “I think he’s right, pure and simple,” Ridge said. Even though he said he believed waterboarding “wasn’t the appropriate way for America to be conducting itself,” Ridge added that “to suggest four or five years later what they did was criminal that’s criminal.”

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