Friday, August 21, 2009

A Sad Day for Republicans (Ridge -- Unlike Others -- Has No Reason To Lie)

Top advisers to George W. Bush pressed for a politically-motivated terror alert a few days before the 2004 election, ex-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge charges in a new book.

In a chapter of “The Test Of Our Times” titled “The Politics of Terrorism,” Ridge alleges ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft argued for an Orange Alert — or “high” threat — because of an Oct. 29, 2004, video by Osama Bin Laden

“Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level and was supported by Rumsfeld,” Ridge writes in the book due out Sept. 1 by St. Martin’s Press.

No intelligence hinted of a new attack. Ridge aides objected to the White House and no change was made to the threat level.

Mark Corallo, Ashcroft’s spokesman in 2004, denied the ex-AG played politics with national security, and said Ridge should “use his emergency duct tape” on himself.

But exhaustive research by the Daily News in 2004 found that Ashcroft’s Justice Department rolled out terrorism announcements frequently to give Bush a boost in the polls against Democrat John Kerry.

Ridge’s first hint that Bush political aides were leveraging fear of terror attacks — an issue where Bush polled well — came in May 2004.

Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller held a press conference to warn about American-Al Qaeda Adam Gadahn and other suspects.

A top source said the Bush White House orchestrated the event. The red-faced FBI chief would appear with Ashcroft only once more.

But even Ashcroft had limits. He rebuffed a close aide’s request to make announcements of indictments and “be-on-the-lookouts” for terror suspects in political battleground states, a top Justice source told The News.