Ridge's "Revelations" Not That Surprising

Terror alerts were bogus political theater? You don't say...

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A new book by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has ex-Bush officials riled.

    Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has become the latest ex-Bush administration official to completely sell out by writing a tell-all book about his experiences working for the worst American president since Caligula.

    And several Bush loyalists have obligingly stated that if he had a problem with the way things were run, he should have said something at the time.

    (It goes without saying, of course, that any administration official who complained either publicly or privately would have been accused of disloyalty, called crazy, fired, or run out of town, but very certainly not listened to.)

    Anyhow, what's Ridge's sexy new disclosure that's getting Bush fans all riled? The incendiary (which is to say, completely obvious and expected) allegation that once or twice he was asked to tinker with terror alert levels for what appeared to be political rather than security-related reasons.

    You remember this color-coded terror alert system that was pretty doomed from the start because it was so infantile and pointless? The one that people always joked about, as in, "Oh, no. Bush is not looking very popular these days -- better raise the terror alert level to Blazing Vermillion"?

    That one.

    On the eve of the 2004 election, when Bush was running just a few fragile points ahead of John Kerry, Ridge says he was pressured by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft to raise the terror alert level. Ridge declined, because he had no intelligence suggesting that a terror attack was in the works, and that's pretty much the end of the story.

    Except, of course, that Ridge writing about this in his upcoming book is tantamount to urinating on the still-fresh grave of the glorious Bush presidency. Who cares if Bush had nothing to do with Rumsfeld and Ashcroft's dumb lobbying? It is still terribly disloyal of Tom Ridge to disclose this completely believable thing that most people had just assumed was true anyway.

    If Ridge's tale of color-coded conflict can shed light on anything new, it's this: the question of why he decided not to run for the Senate against Arlen Specter in 2010. A guy who tattles on the boss -- even if it's not really the man himself but his friends, and even if the tattling is just confirmation of whatever is already generally accepted fact -- will not have much luck with Pennsylvania Republican primary voters.

    Terror analyst Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.