Archive for August 21, 2009

About the Video | “Former White House counsel John Dean joins Countdown’s Keith Olbermann to discuss the implications of Tom Ridge’s assertion that Bush administration officials pressured him into raising the terror threat level from yellow to orange on the eye of the 2004 presidential election”.

Did the former Bush Administration play the terror card with Americans to get re- elected in 2004? Yes and we now know for sure if you believe Tom Ridge. To some this comes as no surprise, myself included, there have been suspicions for years. Take this circa 2005 quote from Salon as an example.

The same day a major new survey confirmed that it was 9/11, and the wartime culture following the terrorist attack, that provided President Bush and Republicans with their biggest political advantage in recent years, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge admitted that he often argued with top administration officials who pressed for the color-coded terror threat levels to be raised — level changes that, according to polls, routinely translated into political gain for Republicans.

The survey was conducted by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and it highlighted the strong gains Republicans have made, particularly among swing voters, since Bush took office. “The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, helped redraw the political landscape in America, giving President Bush and the Republicans an advantage over the Democrats,” is how the Washington Post summarized the findings. “The survey underscored how important the issues of terrorism and national security and Bush’s personal appeal were in helping the GOP put together a winning coalition of voters in 2004.”

But what does Ridge’s latest revelation change? Apparently, there are more “controversial” points to come in Ridge’s new book “The Test of Our Times“, due out September 1st.  Considering Ridge was the first secretary of Homeland Security, he better than anyone should know where Bush and Cheney buried the bodies. 

The book’s Publisher, St. Martin’s Press put out these teasers.

 Some of the controversial points he reveals are how:

 • The Bush administration pressured him to connect homeland security to the international “war on terror” (read: Iraq)

 • The White House attempted to manipulate the national security alert for political gains

• Ridge pushed for a plan—defeated because of “turf wars” in the administration—to integrate DHS and FEMA disaster management in New Orleans and other areas before Hurricane Katrina Finally, Ridge offers a prescriptive look to the future, advocating ways that America may reaffirm its safety, but not at the cost of personal liberty.

Television captures every word and every expression. I was reasonable to think that our enemies would look for any sign of weakness in the person who in a few days would be responsible for protecting America against them. At that moment, I experienced a royal flush of emotion—after all, I was leaving thestate I loved, a loyal staff, many friendships developed over a lifetime, the frustration of work unfinished, to head into the unknown and the undoable. In normal times, I might have shed a tear at such thoughts. But I was determined not to do so as I said my farewell. If I needed any reminding, I glanced down at the note I had written for counsel. “The bastards are watching.” We can never guarantee we will be free from another attack. We must also understand that every day thousands and thousands of our fellow citizens work here and abroad to take us to a new level of readiness and security. For in the end, Americans do not live in fear. We live in freedom. And we will let no one take that freedom away.



Biodefense Research Could Violate Weapons Conventions, Report Warns

Source: By Martin Matishak | Global Security Newswire

Member states to the Biological Weapons Convention must be careful not to violate their commitments to the pact as they conduct research activities and seek to defend themselves against bioterrorism, according to a think tank report issued this week (see GSN, July 24). 

Image Credit | Associated Press

Image Credit | Associated Press

“There is growing recognition that states parties engaged in biodefense research and development activities must take active steps to ensure their own compliance with the convention and to effectively reassure others of their compliance,” according to the document released Monday by the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

The Biological Weapons Convention entered into force in 1975 and today has 162 member nations. The treaty prohibits development, production, stockpiling and use of weaponized disease agents such as anthrax, smallpox or plague, as well as equipment and delivery systems intended for hostile use.

The report is the result of a Feb. 25, 2008, conference aimed at facilitating information sharing and discussion among a small group of governmental and nongovernmental experts about the processes used by various agencies to ensure compliance with the treaty.

Participants examined and summarized in great detail the compliance mechanisms of Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Annual U.S. funding for research and development of medicines and other countermeasures to biological agents has increased from roughly $580 million in fiscal 2001 to more than $3 billion by fiscal 2007, according to the center. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the government has spent or allocated nearly $50 billion among 11 federal departments and agencies to address the threat of biological weapons

The significant growth of biodefense research and development programs over the last decade, coupled with failure by member states to establish a verification protocol to ensure compliance with the treaty, has placed “new pressure” on the prohibitions contained in the compact, according to the report. It does not specify what activities have put pressure on the treaty.

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