Thursday, August 20, 2009

Terror Alerts Raised for Political Gain?

[by Mr.Hengist]

Former DHS head Tom Ridge has a book coming out, and as is the custom of the age, he's disclosed some titillating revelations to boost sales.

I'm particularly interested in his claim regarding terror alerts because this is a topic that came up during the conversation between Noocyte and myself during the summer of 2004. Although I was already passingly familiar with the accusation that the DHS terror threat level was being raised to distract attention from bad news, I thought it best to review the data to which he linked in order to evaluate it more closely. What I found was that there was no demonstrable correlation between these events. The threat level and the events cited were up to two weeks apart in either direction, and "bad news" events were frequent enough that there was no significant correlation between them and the threat levels being raised. That is to say, the threat level being raised had a high probability of being within a two week vicinity of a bad news event because the bad news events of the caliber cited by these accusers happened with such frequency. I also pointed out to him that the data shows that support for POTUS Bush went up by only a few percentage points after the threat level was raised, and it dissipated quickly after that, in a matter of a handful of days, thus demonstrating that if they were being used as a means of garnering support for the Bush Administration, they were, consistently, having a remarkably weak effect and were short-lived as well, thus calling into question the rationale of continuing to do so.

At any rate, I imagine the children of Kos will be frothing at the mouth over their supposed vindication. I'd like to point out that the claims being made by the lunatic Left back then were in regards to all instances of the terror alert status being raised, whereas Ridge is making a claim that is pertinent to one and only one event - the one before the 2004 election. In fact, as the book has not yet been published, it's not possible to say for certain just what his claim is. If it is as is claimed in the U.S. News & World Report "Washington Whispers" blog, then it would seem to undercut the argument they made during those turbulent years. Of all the terror level raising events in question - and that's all of them, according to the lunatic Left - apparently only one is believed by Ridge to have been politically motivated. The key phrase here is "believed to have been," as Ridge does not seem to claim that it was politically motivated; he only claims that he believed it to be so.

His accusation is that it was his suspicion, but presumably he was not instructed to raise the terror threat level on explicitly political grounds. In order for his accusation to have merit it would have had to have been explicit because we are and were facing an enemy which is and was avowedly opposed to democracy and elections in general. I submit that, absent political considerations of the Bush Administration, it would have been negligent to have kept the terror threat level at its pre-election level in light of the anti-democratic aims of our enemies: Al Qaeda and their like-minded brethren. In light of that, it would not have been enough for Bush Administrations to tell Ridge that the terror threat level should be raised in advance of the 2004 elections; in order for the accusation Ridge has made to have merit he would have had to have been told explicitly that the purpose of pushing him to raise the threat level was to boost the reelection chances of Republicans.

If what he was told was that explicit - and, remember, from what we now know he bases his claim on his judgment alone - then I will concede that this was a dastardly deed. Short of an explicit connection then this accusation is some weak tea indeed.

As an aside, it's also worth noting that pushing Ridge to raise the threat level is not consistent with an administration that had plans to fix the election, thus, once again, undercutting the suspicions of the Left that Bush stole the 2004 election.


Noocyte said...

Beat me to the punch on this one, Mr Hengist. The more I look at this, the more weak the tea seems. It still bears watching, mind you, since any indication that terror alerts were utilized for political advantage would be altogether inexcusable. Ed at Hot Air is all over this, and so far it doesn't look good at all for Ridge's claims.

If as it seems this is all smoke and no fire, it very seriously drops Ridge's stock in my mind. He'd always seemed a stalwart, workmanlike fellow, if uninspiring. If indeed he's pulled a Scott McClellan, then it's a great big disappointment.

Noocyte said...

And to this day, I still cringe at the brittle-onion-skin-flimsy "data" which seemed so very smoking-gun-like in proving terror alert shenanigans to my Bush-bash-blinkered eyes at the time. Oy.

Why don't you just give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice in it ;-)

Mr.Hengist said...

This is the digital age: I shall therefore electrocute you with a 9V battery on your tongue, which you'll be sticking out at me. As a former Liberal myself, I will be obliged to have you do the same to me. With my luck, your wife will walk in on us as we do this roleplaying of Idiocracy.

I'm not sure I like this plan. Must rethink - will advise.