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Tom Ridge Reports Sky Is Blue

Calling everybody back from the beach for this news flash: Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has written a book in which he reveals that the Homeland Security color coded system for describing terrorist threat levels was influenced by political considerations. Who could have guessed that?

terrorist advisory level color code chartOther revelations in Tom Ridge’s book:

– Osama Bin Laden is a Muslim
– Pat Boone was never a suspect in the assassination of John F. Kennedy
– Jim Henson had a thing for puppets
– Snakes have developed a way to get around without any arms or legs

The surprise in Tom Ridge’s book isn’t that the color code system is a sham. The surprise is that a former member of the Department of Homeland Security is willing to admit to the sham.

Okay, so it’s a good thing that Tom Ridge now openly admits that the Bush Administration was creating the false appearance of an ongoing terrorist threat in order to gain political power. However, if no one in the current government is going to follow up revelations like this with public investigations that pull Bush Administration officials before cameras under oath, what is the practical point?

Furthermore, despite promises of reform, the Obama Administration is still using the color-coded terrorist risk system. Even though there hasn’t been a serious, credible terrorist threat in years, Homeland Security under Obama is still using the same color warning level as George W. Bush did. A revelation I’d like to see would come from President Obama himself: An explanation of why he still claims that there is a “high risk” (code orange) of terrorist attack against domestic flights in the United States.

That assessment doesn’t seem to be reality-based, so I’d like to see the same kind of questions about political motivation for Homeland Security threat advisories under Obama as we saw under Bush. If Obama won’t alter the fear-based Homeland Security system, he ought to be held accountable for that lack of change.

15 comments to Tom Ridge Reports Sky Is Blue

  • qs

    Too bad he didn’t say who was pressuring him in particular.

  • qs

    Too bad he didn’t tell who was pressuring him in particular.

  • ReMarker

    Is it just me or do I sense “Bush screwed us and anyone else running our country will screw us” thinking?

    If that is the point of this topic, then WHO in the hell do you suggest lead our country?

    The GOP, which includes Bush and the boys, have been selling America out for decades. Even when Clinton held office. Why is it so hard for some people to make good judgements about the people running our country and what they must deal with to run the most powerful country in the world.

    It is true that America could be way better than it is presently. But where were the “things need to be better” people from the mid-60’s until now, when many of us spent time trying to help things be better. I’ll tell you where they were. They were listening to the GOP refer to us as tree-huggers, feminazis, queers, etc., and buying in to that bull and voting GOP.

    My advise is to stop crybabying about the Obama people and try to understand 1. nobody is perfect 2. makeing “perfection” the enemy of the absolutely necessary is a mistake 3. Obama and the people in his administration are doing many prudent things to get our country “back to normal”.

    I choose to believe they are doing as good a job as is possible under the circumstances. The GOP has really gotten America in deep dodo.

  • ReMarker

    Another point:

    Just suppose the Obama Administration changed EVERYTHING to the way it should be within one week of being sworn into office, do you suppose most people would be freaked? Of course they would, so relax and watch our “world class” Obama Administration do the work needed. I’m sure it will take some more time. I’ll not be the one that is impatient to a fault.

    • ReMarker, the problem goes way beyond Obama needing more time to make things better. On many issues, Obama’s policy is to continue the Bush policy without reform. In many cases, Obama is actually expanding Bush’s policies, making them worse.

      Is it “absolutely necessary” that Obama continue Homeland Security color coding without reform? Is it “absolutely necessary” that he expand Bush’s faith-based initiatives without reform? Is it “absolutely necessary” for Obama to expand military spending? Is it “absolutely necessary” for Obama to engage in gay bashing? Is it “absolutely necessary” for Obama to cover up evidence of torture? Is it “absolutely necessary” for Obama to refuse to take part in open investigations of Bush Administration crimes? Is it “absolutely necessary” for Obama to promote “clean coal” and expanded offshore drilling? Is it “absolutely necessary” for Obama to refuse polar bears protection under the Endangered Species Act?

      Etc. etc. etc…

      Your idea of what’s “absolutely necessary” doesn’t sound progressive at all. How do you define “progressive”, ReMarker? As whatever the Democrats are doing?

      • ReMarker

        JC, all good points. However, what would “YOU” “DO”?

        Personally, I try to stay well informed so I can help my country with my vote. The GOP”s suggestions are not good enough to get my vote. The Dem’s suggestions are good enough atm, even if the Dems or the GOPs are not “absolutely necessary”. Actually, I’m reasonably pleased with the Dem’s progress so far. Not “absolutely” but “reasonably”. I repeat, America is in a world of s*** atm, but things ARE changing.

        Here is a speech given by President Obama today. It is a long one but he addresses many of the obstacles his Administration is burdened with. Even a GOP supporter should take the time to hear information from their country’s elected leader. I didn’t vote for Bush but I listened to him. Guess what? Obama can make complete sentences.

        I think all of your “issues” are works in progress, JC. A few Google searches can help anyone that is really interested in the facts of those subjects. Ofc, it is always good to be careful about information sources. I could rebut every one of your “absolutely necessary” points but that would be a waste of my time. Using a “absolutely necessary” criteria for points makes it impossible to address the point because the debate is all about the “absolutely necessary” part. Btw, I think randy ray’s observation is realistic. To be sure, color codes are not “absolutely necessary”. However you may have a hard time convincing family members of the people in the Twin Towers on 9/11 that a national warning system is a bad idea. FYI: Bush was briefed on that attack in an intellegience briefing just a few days before it happened.

        Refer “absolutely necessary”: It’s good to avoid making
        “perfect” the enemy of the greater good. I choose to think in terms of good or bad and right or wrong. That way I can avoid an argument with someone that is defining a subject with
        “absolutely necessary”.

        • ReMarker

          JC, I now see why you used “absolutely necessary” in your post. It is because of my statement “makeing perfection the enemy of the absolutely necessary, is a mistake”.

          The “absolutely necessary”, in the context of my post, had to do with making America better, And can also be said about our national defense, etc. (Of which I would debate their necessity, if necessary).

          The more generic truism is the one in my reply: It’s good to avoid making “perfect” the enemy of the good. I put “greater good” in that one and wish I hadn’t.

        • Jim

          My issue with Barack Obama, ReMarker, is the number of policies of Barack Obama’s that are not at all “works in progress” toward what he promised in the campaign, but rather 180 degrees opposite to those promises. Especially regarding transparency, a president’s arbitrary authority and surveillance, he’s assertedly turned himself around.

  • randy ray haugen

    the color codes may be in place to provide comfort to the public. people feel safer. it might be a false sense of security, but…someday they may have a real threat and the code might help. to say “there hasn’t been a serious, credible terrorist threat in years” is not the point. the point is to be ready when there is a threat. on 9/10/01 they could have said the same thing.

    • How does it help for the government, under Bush AND Obama, to use this color code system to tell Americans that there’s a “high risk” of terrorist attack of domestic flights for years on end, when clearly, as the statistics show, there isn’t any high risk at all?

  • 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.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  • Tom

    i sincerely hope you’re right Tom Degan, but the damage is already done and it’ll be miraculous if we even survive as a viable nation behind all the economic plundering, environmental carelessness, foreign and domestic policy fiascos, AND the fact that “our” government has been hi-jacked by corporate America to the point where it no longer even functions as it was designed.

  • ReMarker

    I, for one, hope Barry et al. are watching all the terrorists, foreign and domestic. And I don’t care how they warn us. Our government should just do their job and stop the bastards.

    Jim your point is spot on and I can only hope there is method to the madness of what seems like Obama’s vacillations. I expect he, as president, has become aware of more information that is prudent for the general public to know. Observe how much facts are twisted with the information we (the general public) do get. That, my friend, is a good segway to my biggest concern about any government.

    There is always the possibility of government abuse. Even with a health care solution, if a anti-health care group gets in power then there could be big problems. It’s the same thing with Social Security as an example. It is true the Bushys wanted to privatize Social Security so SS money could be used to buy stocks. Ofc, that was before the Great Recession. But before the Great Recession, the Bushys successfully funneled piles of money to the HMOs and oil companies by avoiding/opposing legislation that would help Americans as a whole.

    We all must be diligent, informed, and reasonable in our choices or we could get more of what we have begun removing from America’s body politic. As citizens, our job is not over.

  • It is upsetting because terror alerts scare the public. This should have never been used to promote a political agenda.

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