|This one is unsurprising based on first responders I've interviewed here in Florida who dealt with Tom Ridge and generally saw him as a stand-up guy. During the campaign, of course, folks on my side of the campaign pond, including the outfit I worked for, clobbered the then HSec director constantly, for raising the candy-coated color alerts at suspiciously opportune times for the Bush administration and campaign... Still, I'm not surprised to see where the blame really lies:
Ridge reveals clashes on alerts
By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY
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.
His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation's homeland security apparatus.
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?' "
Ridge goes on to say his objections centered around the huge amounts of money local governments are forced to spend when the alerts are raised, say from yellow to orange. According to the USAT story, the alerts are raised "if a majority on the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council favors it and President Bush concurs. Among those on the council with Ridge were Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI chief Robert Mueller, CIA director George Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell."
And who does Ridge point out by name as one of the chief hellraisers? Then-Attorney General John "Softshoe" Ashcroft, of course...