have nothing against Tom Ridge.
his color-coded threat alert system seems nearly
useless as a way of spreading anything but anxiety.
And his advocacy of duct tape as a security measure
was a great moment of unintended comedy.
all that, though, the homeland security secretary
strikes me as a man doing the best he can with
a thankless job. Complain all you want about his
incessant warnings of attacks that never come.
Let it be discovered in the wake of some future
assault that Ridge sat on information, however
vague, that might have prevented it. They will
string him up in front of the Capitol and none
of the people calling him an alarmist will mutter
a word in his defense.
I tend to sympathize with the man when he's forced
to fend off critics who question his terror warnings.
However, Ridge said something last week that I
can't allow to pass without challenge.
grab for the spotlight
will recall that the nation's terror alert level
was recently raised, largely due to information
that was revealed to be several years old. This
led some critics to suggest Ridge acted less from
the need to respond to a terrorist threat than
from the need to snatch the spotlight from John
reply? "We don't do politics in the Department
of Homeland Security," he said.
would be nice to believe the department is a politics-free
zone. But it has become increasingly obvious that
no such thing exists in the Bush White House.
Ridge serves an administration that has never
been reticent about subordinating truth to politics.
disastrous war in Iraq, to which President Bush
rushed based upon shaky intelligence and a true
believer's zeal, is but the most obvious example.
The president's brazen dismissal of his own rationale
for that war is but the latest.
between his claim that weapons of mass destruction
were coming to get us and his more recent admission
that weapons of mass destruction don't matter
and never really did, lie many other examples
of the malleability of truth and the pre-eminence
of politics in the Bush White House.
is, after all, the same administration that suppressed
a report from its own Department of Agriculture,
which found a link between potentially dangerous
airborne bacteria and animal waste at large farms.
The same one that edited a warning about global
warming out of a report from the Environmental
Protection Agency. The same one that rewrote a
Health Department study because it documented
racial bias among health-care providers. The same
one that axed a Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention Web page that said education about
condom use does not lead to increased sexual activity.
The same one that killed a National Cancer Institute
statement that abortion does not increase a woman's
chance of getting breast cancer.
Tom Ridge protests his credibility too loudly,
he might want to stop and consider the company
he is keeping. As a member of the most ideologically
driven, truth-challenged administration since
Nixon, he's in a poor position to demand that
we take him on faith.
the secretary will have to forgive me if I'm a
tad skeptical of his claim that they don't do
politics in the department of homeland security.
would they not do it there? They do it everywhere
Posted: August 14, 2004