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August 21st, 2009
10:01 AM ET

Frances Townsend: Tom Ridge has it wrong

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Frances Townsend, CNN contributor and former homeland security adviser, disputes the allegation politics were involved in the terror alert level."]

During the 2004 presidential race, many on the left accused the Bush White House of trying to use the politics of fear to get re-elected. That same claim is now coming from a former Bush insider.

America's first secretary of homeland security, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, says in his new book that he was pressured to raise the nation’s terror alert level ahead of the election.

Frances Townsend, former homeland security adviser for the Bush administration, says that's not what happened. Townsend is now a CNN national security contributor and she spoke with Kiran Chetry and John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Friday.

Kiran Chetry: In his book Ridge says, “Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level, and was supported by Rumsfeld. There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None. I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?’” Fran, you were in the meetings. What is your recollection of how that whole conversation went down?

Frances Townsend: Kiran, I actually chaired the meeting and called it. Tom Ridge knew very well that I agreed with him that I didn't believe there was a basis to raise the threat level, but I knew there were others in the Homeland Security Council that did believe that and we agreed we'd have the conversation. By the way, what Tom Ridge's book doesn't say is the most eloquent case for not raising the threat level was not made by Tom in fact, it was made by Secretary of State at the time, Colin Powell. And Bob Mueller, at great personal risk – remember his boss John Ashcroft was advocating to raise it – based on the facts of the intelligence, Bob Mueller himself made an eloquent case not to raise it.

Chetry: He's saying he felt politics played in to those decisions and it was the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of him deciding to get out of federal government. Do you think politics came in to the equation at all during the time when it came to deciding whether or not to raise the threat level?

Townsend: Not only do I not think that it – that politics played any part in it at all – it was never discussed. In fact, the only thing that was discussed was – earlier that summer there had been a threat against the financial district, there was the Bin Laden tape, and then there was another tape, Kiran, by Adam Gadahn a U.S. citizen who was a member of al Qaeda. And it was a very threatening tape. And so the discussion really revolved around what the intelligence was. There was no discussion of politics whatsoever.

John Roberts: There was also some controversy following the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston when the threat level was raised and was later found out that a lot of the information, or at least some of the information that played in to that decision to raise the threat level, was three-years-old. So there were a lot of people who were already suspicious. I mean, when you take these two things in combination, does it suggest that maybe people were looking at this idea – well, it is the fall of the election campaign, we're in a tight race here with John Kerry, maybe we could work some things to our advantage?

Townsend: You know, in fact, not only was there no discussion in those meetings, the discussions on the margins – you know one of the people who was in that meeting was John McLaughlin, the acting director of CIA, and John Brennan, the current homeland security adviser was then the head of the National Counterterrorism Center. The only discussions I recall were, on the margins of that, there was concern if the intelligence supported raising the threat level it might actually be to the detriment of President Bush because people might perceive it being political. In the end John, people have to remember, you want the Cabinet members who disagree to have a healthy debate. And this in the end came out in the right place. The threat level was not raised and there’s no reason to suspect this discussion would have had any impact on the election whatsoever.

Chetry: When we talk about whether or not politics played in to any of this equation, a lot of people say perhaps there are some political ambitions on the part of Tom Ridge and that he wants to perhaps separate himself from the Bush administration in some ways moving forward. Do you think that what he wrote or what he's alleging here perhaps has a political motivation?

Townsend: I've got to believe it does, Kiran. And I'm sorry to say that because I really enjoyed working with Tom Ridge. But I will tell you not only did he never say this at the time – that he thought political influence was involved in the raising or lowering of the threat level – he’s never said it since when I’ve spoken to him. And just two weeks ago – I'm co-chairing along with Bill Webster a bipartisan task force to make recommendations to Secretary Napolitano now about the threat advisory system. One of the things we obviously did was ask Tom Ridge and Secretary Chertoff to come in and talk to the panel. This is two weeks ago. And Tom Ridge never in that meeting ever mentioned any concern and he mentioned what concerns he had. He never mentioned any concern about politicization of the threat advisory system. So you've got to believe that this is personally motivated in some way.

Roberts: He’s not coming out to talk about this until the first of September. Between now and then … if he doesn't have specifics to back this up, he's going to get eaten alive by folks like you, Andy Card, and other Bush administration officials who are going to try to slam him down as hard as they can.

Townsend: Well John, I’ll tell you, last night I got my hands on one of the books and I looked at it. And, in fact, in other parts of the book, Tom acknowledges that politics never played a role in any of his decisions about the threat alert system. So you have to wonder if this is not just publicity meant to sell more books.

Filed under: Controversy • Politics
soundoff (365 Responses)
  1. Len in Santa Fe

    I agree with so many other comments - Frances Townsend is not a credible, unbiased commentator and deserve no place with CNN.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  2. JR

    Yes it was used for political purposes and she was one of the people doing the using.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  3. AHA


    And you personally know that she is NOT telling the truth on this? Please provide your inside knowledge to back up the assertion. In other words, she is not telling the truth, but the claim attributed to Ridge ( who just happens ot have a book to sell) IS true. Is that your "confirmation?"

    August 21, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  4. Mike G

    This says it all. Hope you are not close to the next main event in the USA. It's just a matter of time and when. Look around you, you can see it can happen at any time.

    Plus, don't forget!




    August 21, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  5. MartinSA

    One opinion vs. another opinion on circumstances and the one that people flock to is the one that seems to validate their own personal biases.

    so much for truth.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  6. Dennis

    All I can say is Ms. Towsend is deluded

    August 21, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  7. Josh SMith

    I give credit to TOm Ridge for being man enough to stand up and say what really happend. It's going to take more guys like him, for the truth to come out. All these guys in the Bush administration should have to stand trial for what they did. I thank mr. ridge for being honest and I hope more people like him will have the guts to come out and speak the truth.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  8. rich

    Frances Townsend is a Bush era hack with zero national security /military experience. How the heck does someone like this end up working terrorism issues in the WH?

    August 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  9. josephine

    Did anyone notice her nose getting bigger and longer as she was denying the political motives of the terror alert??? The best way to get to the bottom of this is to get Mr. Ridge and Ms. Townsend a lie detector test. Then the public will know if Mr. Ridge is just trying to sell more of his book or if Ms. Townsend is just trying to keep these perpetrators from being investigated. She need not worry as the statute of time limitations has passed in regards to this incident.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  10. gobnait

    Well, thank heavens we have such a transparent administration with members of rock solid integrity in place now. Obama and his team would NEVER deliberately try to scare people. Whew, that was a close one!

    August 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  11. James

    My gosh! Are you CNN liberals still looking for something to slap Bush around for? Get on with your lives! Maybe you should spend more time looking into how corrupt Obama and his cronies are and how bad they want to take down the American way of life. They don't care about the common man, much less anyone that doesn't believe or conform to their communist beliefs. All they want to do is take more of our money so that they can force us to pay for abortions and other immoral acts. Get a life CNN and move on. Your reporting is biased and always favors liberals. Have some integrity from now on.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  12. Barry

    Aparently Frances Townsend is worried about indicting herself and adopting a very lawyerly response in saying there was no discussion of politics in one meeting she chaired. Why and how cabinet members like the AG or Sec of Def thought that the threat level needed to be raised in the absense of any good reason can only be attributed to ... what ?!?! Irrationality ? Mischief ? A poor joke ?

    Get a grip on reality Ms Townsend. Your administration is history and your propaganda will only work on your party ditto-heads.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  13. just so you know

    Oh wow look at the angry liberals. I'm sure raising the terror alert is much worse than socialized health care. Oh wait I've never been hurt by the raised terror alert but I was hurt by the socialized military health care.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  14. suzyQ

    What a bunch of whiners on this post!! As if Obama and his cronies are honest and have intergrity Ha Ha. Face it we need real reform across the aisle.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  15. John

    Bigoted folks who automatically assume the worst about either people who declare themselves Democrats or Republicans can't be expected to suddenly develop a rational stance on any issue that comes before them. I am so tired of knee-jerk posts that jump to predictable conclusions not supported by facts. Give me a break folks. If our country is going to get to a better place, it will be because a majority of us get truly sick of spin and knee-jerk left-right loony reading of tea leaves that and start to think rationally for God's sake. Anyone on the left or right that cannot keep an open mind for over 40% of the adult population is, and I used this word consciously, a BIGOT. So if we must be intolerant, let us all agree to be intolerant of bigotry on both the left and the right. The high ground is to not paint each other with one brush, but to actually place more value of ideas rather than what political party affiliation a person speaking has. Innocent until proven guilty should apply at all levels, and for all our sakes, let us temper the political discourse by actually listening and finding redeeming qualities in people of all political stripes.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  16. Wayne in Raleigh NC

    Face it Tom's goal is to sell books. He wanted to get his book on the stand before Cheney and Bush beat him to it. Americans (Dems, Ind and Rep) need to look forward and solve the problems of today, economy, healthcare and remaking the US economy for the future.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  17. DT

    Frances Townsend is about as believeable as most Washington politicians. She was just another servent of the people in the Bush administration who did her job unselfishly never thinking of herself or her next career move inside the beltway. PLEEEASE! Everytime I see an ex-politician or an ex-administration official or another ex-General who is now being a paid political analyst on TV, it makes me want to spend more quality and productive time outside away from the tube. And they want to know why more people are getting their news from the internet??

    August 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  18. Jim

    I was with a polce department years ago and we would call all this nothing more than He said She said nonsense. Who really cares?? Politics is politics.....over and over and over again. They all lie, all of them. I haven't met one honest politician yet!! I have been around for years, many years so I do have some say. So let's open a Congressional Hearing on the matter to waste more taxpayer's money. Isn't there more important issues on the table right now? Anything for a story, fluff, it's all fluff.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  19. Ben in Texas

    Looks like the Bush administration, in the person of Ms. Townsend, is still lying, long after they've left their mess behind. Let's see, how many lies does that make? WMD, Saddam and 9/11, torture, illegal wiretaps, secret prisons, domestic spying, mission accomplished, ...

    August 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  20. Mark

    Nothing happened move along. The end state of this whole Ridge issue is that there was no political interference. There might have been attempted political interference but it doesn't really matter because the Threat level wasn't raised.

    If you hate Bush and you believe he was a criminal then you need to look for a better target than this issue. It's in the news cycle right now to sell Tom Ridge's book. And it seems to be working. If you feel the need to defend bush it needs to be aimed at another target because again nothing happened in this instance. He really needs no defense, except possibly on ethics, and I think that there are bigger ethical issues that need to be defended first.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  21. Eric

    I dream of a day, when CNN can be more like BBC news-give the facts and let the viewer decide what to think. Townsend, Bill Bennett, news here. CNN quit preceding all your reports with a question (are we safer than...?) and start reporting facts. I don't need a political round table on every issue.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  22. ja

    You don't need to bring up politics in a discussion for politics to be involved. On one hand Frances Townsend says there were no discussions about politics that caused the security level to be raised, and then she accuses Ridge of using politics for his claims. Tom Ridge never said politics were involved in his writing his claims.

    Typical hypocritical media.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  23. Wayne

    She's just another liar I'm very disappointed CNN hired her another reason to watch MSNBC instead

    August 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  24. Bob D

    You sissy libs and your conspiracy theories are sad and pathetic, I suppose there are no political overtones to obama's crew, what a joke!

    August 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  25. clarity007

    Lefties and Righties please calm down! When and if other people at the meeting confirm or deny her recollection you can then assume to be suffciently knowlegeable to go off the deep end. Until then please think. I know an unnatural act for the fringe elements.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  26. Dave

    There is an interesting contradiction here. Muller voiced his own opinion "at great personal risk" since it contradicted his boss (Ashcroft), yet we are told that there were no politics at these meetings and the point was to get real discussion between disagreeing parties.

    So which is it, an open discussion or a political affair where dissent is risky? In that environment, can you really question why some opinions were withheld?

    August 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  27. MVD

    Playing on people's fears is what ALL politicians do. Obama has been doing it since he got in office with the stimulus and now health care. Politicians have their own agendas on both sides of the aisle and the disconnect of control the American people actually have over their government and elected officials shrinks with every presidency.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  28. Cardinal

    And why would anyone care for the opinion of an accomplice?

    August 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  29. Dave

    This whole interview does nothing to discredit Ridge, not that you can "discredit" someone's personal musings anyway. Ridge only stated that these thoughts crossed his mind since he couldn't justify the arguments made by Ashcroft and Rummy. He didn't say he had proof, or intended to act on it or whatever. So what if he never mentioned those thoughts to this woman or anyone else? So what if he stated his own actions on the alert system were not politically motivated? How does that change that, at the point of this meeting, he suspected political meddling?

    This is basically a by-product of the 24-hr cable news cycle. If someone says something interesting, quickly find someone to play counterpoint, no matter how weak. Real investigative journalism would realize that the only thing that can enhance the story is further evidence one way or another of Ashcroft and Rumsfeld's intentions, not just more speculative defamation.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  30. You People Are Foaming At The Mouth

    It's funny how the liberal left constantly refers to the right as 'haters', yet when you read the insane outrage pouring out here you can see who the real haters are. They shred anything that they disagree with. Hypocrites. And I'm sure they'll shred this post as well...

    August 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  31. Squirrel Fights

    I want to be mad at something. I want to beat my simian arms on the ground and berate public officials. I want them to know how impotent I am. My voice is muffled, confused and angry. Should I fear being blown up or should I fear my government? I want to be seen and heard even though I have nothing to say. I have delusions of grandeur. I want to be important enough to be spied on, but I know I am not. I want to rack up debt, and goods, and cars, and people. I want to owe until I die. Then I only want to rest. I have filled almost every hole, in my soul, with products and preformed political bias. I watch the television programs that are prescribed to my social demographic. I mindlessly drool with the rest of you then I become angry at my own stagnation. Our time is over. We are done. We have failed.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  32. susan

    In the greater Boston area, residents were treated to security measures, traffic tie-ups and barricades that went miles up to Rt 93 because of security concerns for the Democratic National Convention being held in Boston, where Kerry was going to be nominated. Oddly enough a short time later, the Republicans had their own convention at Madison Square Garden in NYC, and these extreme (and grossly inconvenient) measures were suddenly not needed. Many people believed that politics played a huge role in this, and future authors will probably come out with their own books stating that this was the case.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  33. Randy Moran

    As the great Tom Petty once sang, "You believe what you wanna believe."

    August 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  34. Dana

    I believe what Ridge said is very and she is doing damage control. I believe others in Bush administration has some stories too and was too afraid to say something while employed by Bush. Bush administration used 911, along with fear mongering terror tactics to scare people. This was the only way, Bush could win along with stealing the election. He brainwashed people into thinking that he was the only one could keep us safe as President.

    August 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  35. starkwell

    Gee, Francis, I had no idea that in Homeland Security meetings people that had political motivations for pushing for a higher threat level would come right out and tell you. So, there were no discussion sin the meeting that they were pushing for a raise for political reasons? Golly jeepers, I guess that means there were no such considerations. It's not like they could have possibly discussed all those political things BEFORE the meeting, right? I know I'm always sure to blurt out my bargaining goals in the middle of all my negotiations. And CNN, for the love of god, if you're going to write scripts for your interviewers, can you at least pretend it's not a spoon session...?

    August 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  36. dizizcamron

    Tom Ridge is trying to sell his book AND the threat level was a political tool. is/was that threat level ever in any way useful to an american citizen? none of us were in a position to do anything to make the world less threatening sitting in front of your TVs and commputers. it was useless information thats only affect would be to scare people.

    Ms. Townsend's main point seems to be that raising the threat level was never discussed in terms of politcal gain...of course it wasn't. you don't sit and openly talk about manipulating civic institutions for your own political just talk around what you're doing and everyone understands what you mean. its called plausible deniability, and it is the hall mark of bush's entire presidency.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  37. jenncoolva

    George Bush and Dick Cheney TERRORIZED the American people during their 8 LONG years in office. As a republican I am horrified over what they have done to this country. As a veteran I recognize my duty to "Defend the Constitution against ALL enemies both foreign AND domestic"...

    Cheney and Bush are domestic enemies in my eyes. They have all but destroyed this country and shredded the Constitution in the process. For those of you with short memories, habeus corpus the backbone of the American judicial system all but went away save for ONE SUPREME COURT vote...

    THINK about it... your Constitution rights almost permanently went away. God help us!

    August 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  38. Ken Ross

    Townsend’s own words undermine her point. Why was Bob Muller “at great personal risk” in expressing his opinions in the meeting? She inadvertently emphasizes the point that the Bush administration was not seeking honest input from open-minded, critical thinking people. Blind adherence to promoting failed policy was the norm.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  39. Dee

    Hindsight is always 20-20. That is, it's 20-20 about how you see it now, 6 years later. We were all scared then, whether you admit it or not. And just like when you hear a noise in the house late at night – it can be a loose screen – or it can be something dangerous. At the time you are reacting to the info you have. Later it seems a bit ridiculous that you may have over-reacted.
    Nonetheless, this harping about how Pres. Bush did or didn't assess the threat level to your personal liking, is moot point. I'm more concerned about Obama, his crew and whether or not threats are being assessed – rightly, wrongly or stupidly – and being acted upon, swiftly and decisively, to protect this country.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  40. Glenn

    I wonder how many more of the Bushies are employed by CNN???

    August 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  41. John Mitchell

    I'm in agreement here, Frances cannot be trusted. If she actually chairerd this meeting, why can't CNN get Colin Powell"s assessment of the events that occured? He is still a very trusted figure in American politics.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  42. Geoffrey in Lowell MA

    I've heard this woman before. I think Jeffrey Toobin said it best in response to her mealy mouthed spin, "Words are supposed to mean something". Tom Ridge is well respected by Democrat and Republican for his honesty. If he says it is so, I tend to believe him. Isn't it time CNN took Frances Townsend off the payroll? She is not news, she is spin.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  43. Will

    Oh yeah, Frances, we'll take your word for it. It's not like the Bush administration was full of constantly lying criminals...

    You're part of it, and you will go down in history as a traitor to our country, just like the rest of the administration who lacked the courage to speak out against the lies and propaganda of an illegitimate regime

    August 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  44. Jamey

    Townsen is a lying anti-American. Once again she is distorting the truth.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  45. John C

    First of there would be no "discussion" of politics if politics was involved. That is a ridiculous premise. If any "discussions" about raising the alert for political gain took place, there is not reason they would take place at this level with these people. Has she ever been involved in a single political discussion? Does she surmise from that there was never any political discussions? Karl Rove didn’t exist?

    Then you claim that he is making these claims for political reasons, but where are these "discussions" you think validate the first claim?

    They hypocrisy and blatant bias remove and credibility from Townsend’s ridiculous response.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  46. McBenalds

    Okay, so let me get this straight–if you are a Republican and/or like G.W. Bush, then you think Tom Ridge is lying. If you're opposed to the Republicans and/or dislike Bush, then you think Frances Townsend is lying. Both sides will argue passionately and in the end, no one will ever really know anything other than what side you identify with. Does this seem like something not worth discussing to anyone else?

    August 21, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  47. R

    I have read both sides of this story, and I am ashamed that we still have people running this country that want to act like 4 year olds and taddle on each other – GROW UP! We have more serious issues to deal with than this.

    Republicans...Democrats...keep it up. You will soon find your seats being taken over by those running as Independants.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  48. David Owen

    This is misleading. Ridge does NOT say that the political side of raising the terror alert label was discussed during this meeting. And so Townsend's comment is correct in that it was not discussed during the meeting. HOWEVER, what Ridge is saying is that Ashcroft and Rumsfield were pushing to have the terror alert raised right before the election and there was no basis for that request from an intelligence point of view. Therefore the obvious conclusion is that the request was being made for political purposes. Of course they would not discuss raising the alert level for political purposes in the meeting...but the underlying reason for the request being made by the administration was purely political. That is the point...not whether or not it was brought out in the meeting.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  49. gary

    Anyone who has ever been "someone" has all the "secrets" for they are the material that sells books. Do I believe any of this? Does it matter? I think not however the "Bush Bashers" must continue to live in the past!

    August 21, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  50. David

    There's not necessarily a contradiction between what Tom Ridge and Ms. Townsend are saying. Perhaps politics were not discussed at the meeting she cites, but Ridge may have nevertheless felt political pressure from Rumsfeld and the rest of the gang. I'm inclined to believe both of them.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  51. Jack

    It would be more accurate to say that the terror alert was raised up and down to keep the american people pertrified the first three years after 9/11.

    Whether it was raised specifically or not around election time is debatable.

    However, whether the alerts themselves were politically motivated to increase power, prestige, and ensure secrecy – that's not debatable.

    You can argue each case back and forth and say politics played only a minor role but politics played some role almost all the time and it should have played none.

    And if you read carefully what Frances Townsend says she isn't claiming in the instance Ridge focuses on that politics had no role – she is saying it was as decisive a role as Ridge claims.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  52. BT

    The left and the right sides of our political spectrum both are poisoned by hatred and bigotry. It's amusing to see how closed minded some people are as they shriek at others for daring to behave like them.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  53. Phil Smith

    Because meetings are either recorded or minutes taken or because some high profile people will write books, taking non-political action for political gain is not discussed overtly. For instance, no one would say "Lets raise the threat level to manipulate the election." That would be stupid.

    But then, the Bush White House was governed on stupidity...

    August 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  54. Don

    Wait 'til Jeb Bush is elected president. He'll fix this and all the other screw ups.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  55. TANICE

    It is interesting that people will refuse to believe someone simply because that someone does not agree with their hatred. Several people who were at all the meetings agree with her. One person says something different and masses of people want that one person to be telling the truth and all the others to be liars. common sense is missing

    August 21, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  56. djdjdjs

    "We were a year into the war in Iraq…of course the terror alert should’ve been on High….Liberals are idiots."

    You obviously fell for it too. Um, Iraq wasn't attacking, or going to attack anybody.

    Just so you are up to speed, the WMD's were all lies. Got it?

    August 21, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  57. mk

    "discussions" about politics aren't a pre-requisite to exert political pressure

    August 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  58. Josh

    Not only is she lying, her words prove it. She is being ask for facts and she uses a statement "The only discussions I recall were" you recall, well i can only recall certain things everyday does not mean something did not happen. If you re going to come out and say someone is lying you say I remember every word spoken and it wasnt this or that, you don't say that i recall. IDIOT!

    August 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  59. Chris

    Jeff gets it exactly right- the whole 'no politics were discussed except when for the part when politics were discussed' argument just highlights the fractured, illogical way that Bushies all argue their cases. Townsend is just another example...

    August 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  60. Dramafied

    Frances Townsend is nothing more than a sensationalist. What is worse is that she is also a very good liar. Unfortunately the mindless fall for this type of rhetoric...someone trying to save face.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  61. really?

    There sure is a lot interest and discussion regarding something that didn't happen. People had a discussion whether to recommend to Bush if the Threat Level should be raised. The group decided "no" and made that recommendation, to which Bush agreed. The Threat Level was not increased. Now if you want to complain about Osama's message four days before the election affecting the outcome, you might have a point.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  62. E Broadwell

    The surprise is not that the Bush administration used the Threat Level for political gain - they did that throughout the first term whenever they wanted to draw attention away from some inconvenient truth - but that Ridge wrote about it.

    August 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
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