All those who believed that the Bush/Cheney White House at least in the two or three years following the horrendous attacks and in the wake of the carnage of 9/11, used the newly established U.S Department of Homeland Security to exploit fear for political gain, tragically may have been all too correct. That is if the first Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, is to be believed in his forthcoming book.
The Huffington Post via U.S News and World Report says that in his upcoming book, Ridge will allege amongst other matters, that despite heading the Department formed to monitor and combat terrorist threats both on and in the United States of America, he was barred from attending National Security Council meetings, was kept out of the loop on FBI activities and findings, and just before the 2004 Presidential Elections the administration had exerted pressure on Ridge to up the threat level for reasons he now ascribes to politics rather then intelligence about any attacks.
According to the article Ridge was so incensed he thought it was worth resigning over and perhaps that is why he did not serve in a second Bush/Cheney administration. Despite this when questions were raised at the time, Ridge denied politics had anything to do with raising the threat level. It is great he is making those revelations now, but if an administration was so craven to use the instruments of National Security for political gain and this is in fact true, Ridge should have resigned right away and informed the public that the administration screamed terrorist attack not based on national security but political calculation. Personally, in those days I would have thought an allegation such as that was far fetched, but an official like Ridge coming out and exposing the truth (again if its true and not just an attempt to hock books), it would have given such claims at least some credence, and maybe saved some national dignity in the process.
But what is painfully obvious now, the hype leading up to the Iraq War if not made so by the torture memos, excessive secrecy, domestic spying, or accusing political rivals of wanting to erode this nation’s strength; is that the Bush/Cheney’s would take anything whether it be profound,non-existent, even contrary to reason, against the interests of their own political party, the nation’s welfare, prosperity, and even the lives of thousands of men and women to further their agenda and consolidate power. In the wake of all these other allegations of legally questionable, immoral, and even outright illegal conduct by the now previous administration this hardly seems like a surprise. But it is just further proof that for eight years that we had a government that cast aside an notion of accountability, proof, or the old notion that “Politics stops at the water’s edge”.
Still these statements if true, would show that even a national tragedy which left in its wake debris carnage, and thousands slaughtered; the Bush/Cheney administration perceived it as an issue just as ripe for political exploitation and demagoguery as tax cuts, spending, and abortion are in a typical election year. Where most Americans saw tragedy, bloodshed, peril, and the grief of losing someone under such violent circumstances; the Bush/ Cheney white house saw little more then a political issue to bludgeon opponents, dissent, and anyone who questioned their wisdom with, and as an opportunity to radically shift the apparatus and values of our government and country in a more authoritarian direction, while keeping those charged with our safety and from true danger uninformed and possibly the United States vulnerable to such an attack.
Now you can call that mindset many things; opportunistic, gloom and doom; but you can’t call it the accountable, honest, prudent, dignified, or effective conduct of a government of liberty loving people. Too bad we didn’t have all the people yelling about threats to our freedom regarding health care reform there when liberty was really under attack in an area where the government has great power and can do the most damage.