"The clear instructions were to make sure politics never influenced anything," says Andrew Card, who was chief of staff to then-president George W. Bush in 2004, as he and other former White House aides react to the news that former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge writes in a new book that he was pressured by others in the administration to raise the nation's terror alert level prior to the 2004 presidential election.
Politico also quotes former Bush administration homeland security adviser Fran Townsend as saying she's "mystified" by Ridge's claim.
As the Associated Press writes:
In a new book, Ridge says that despite the urgings of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft he objected to raising the security level, according to a publicity release from the book's publisher. In the end the alert level was not changed.
Among those praising the book on publisher Macmillan's website is 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, an ally of Ridge's. McCain writes:
"Tom Ridge, an exemplary public servant, provides a fascinating account of leading the first Department of Homeland Security in a confused and fearful time, as Washington struggled to adapt its bureaucracies and politics to threats it had only dimly perceived until mass murderers struck us on September 11. Tom has written a first draft of history and it's a very memorable one."
According to Ridge's publisher, in The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege ... and How We Can Be Safe Again, Ridge describes how he "effectively thwarted a plan to raise the national security alert just before the 2004 election."
Macmillan also has an excerpt from the book at that webpage.