Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

When the "tin-foil hat" fits....

When the "tin-foil hat" fits....

I am still hoping that a few days of serious forensic computing can recover a blog post that I wrote on Oct. 7, 2005, or nearly four years ago. It documented the strange timing and the political backdrop of Bush administration terror alerts, especially in the months before the 2004 election that gave George W. Bush his 51 percent re-election "mandate." Back then, you were considered in Roswell territory for suggesting such a God-awful thing as our government politicizing the terror-alert system, which of course is a nice way of saying "trying to unnecessarily scare the American voter."

Well, take off your tin-foil hat and tip it to one Tom Ridge:

WASHINGTON — Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, asserts in a new book that he was pressured by top advisers to President George W. Bush to raise the national threat level just before the 2004 election in what he suspected was an effort to influence the vote.

After Osama bin Laden released a threatening videotape four days before the election, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pushed Mr. Ridge to elevate the public threat posture but he refused, according to the book. Mr. Ridge calls it a “dramatic and inconceivable” event that “proved most troublesome” and reinforced his decision to resign.

The provocative allegation provides fresh ammunition for critics who have accused the Bush administration of politicizing national security. Mr. Bush and his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, were locked in a tight race heading into that final weekend, and some analysts concluded that even without a higher threat level, the bin Laden tape helped the president win re-election by reminding voters of the danger of Al Qaeda.

Glenn Greenwald goes to town on this one:

Powerful political leaders are, as Jay Rosen often puts it, the ruling priests in the journalists' church of Savviness.  Trusting the politically powerful is the establishment religion and carrying forth their message is the prime function of establishment journalists (note how Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, just two months ago, argued that the "public option" was crucial but then, like so many liberal pundits eager to maintain and build close relations with the White House, got dutifully on board with the White House message, by completely and shamelessly changing course the minute the White House did).  Distrusting the statements and actions of government leaders was once the central value of our political system and of basic journalism.  But now, especially in the eyes of establishment journalists, it is the hallmark of the unSerious, fringe, leftist loser, no matter how many times it is proven right.

Read the whole thing and then come back Sunday night for the resumption of full-service blogging, serious or unserious. I've only got one 2009 vacation day left, so it's going to be a fast and furious sprint to the end of the Naughts or the Zeros or whatever this decade is called.

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Will Bunch
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