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Author Topic: Terror Alert Redux
David Ricardo
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Former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge is confessing that the United States was constantly put on high terror alert even though Ridge himself knew there was flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat levels.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-05-10-ridge-alerts_x.htm

quote:
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.

His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation's homeland security apparatus.

Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under a color-coded system he unveiled in 2002.

"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' "

I guess it is what it is -- theatrical manipulation of the public's fear of terrorism for God's know what reason.
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KnightEnder
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God knows what reason. To win the last election, and to increase Bush's poll numbers whenever they dropped. Remember Bush was the one that the country felt could protect them better. So keep them scared and focussed on terrorism. Don't some of you people feel duped?

So, Bush created a Homeland Security department, instituted civil rights restrictions, and then didn't let the guy he appointed to run it, run it as he saw fit. Instead, the GOP used it as a propaganda machine in order to scare the public. This absolutely makes the Alert during the election criminal.

The mounting evidence is just unbelieveable. He and Cheney really should be impeached.

KE

[ May 12, 2005, 04:12 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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Daruma28
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Maybe it was erring on the side of caution...especially after an event like 9/11?

Nah. Doesn't fit the mold of assuming the worst and wallowing in the deepest pits of cynicism when it comes to all things Bush.

Careful KE, you guys are really REALLY starting to look similar to the right wing extremists that looked for the worst possible motives in every action to impugn the Clinton admin.

Oh, and all the Democrat politicians that grand standed about how the Bush admin has continually overhyped the threat of terrorism...yeah, they were there too yesterday....running for cover as fast as they could when the alert of an aircraft threat was announced. IF they were so sure that this is all a grand scheme for population manipulation, you'd think they'd show the courage of their convictions, remain in the buildings and boldy announce "There is no terrorist threat. It is simply a ploy for BushCo. to scare and manipulate the American People!!!!!"

Yeah. Right.

LIHOP? MIHOP?

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KnightEnder
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Maybe it was erring on the side of caution? Your guy said it wasn't necessary! Is Tom Ridge wallowing in a pit of cynicism when it comes to Bush? Come on. Is there nothing you won't kneejerk excuse? Are you really this blind? When Kerry or a democrat does something wrong I say it. You should try it, it is a really freeing experience. It lets you be honest with yourself.

And your 'people left because an airplane was coming so this is all crap' is a strawman and an disingenuous comparison. There was no raised terror alert prior to the plane. The two have nothing to do with each other. But nice try at misdirection. Do they hand out a pamphlet?

Edited to add: You know I am no Clinton supporter, so that was another nice little job of misdirection, but even you have to admit that all things being true, Clinton's blowjob pales in comparison with manipulating the terror level in order to get Bush reelected?

KE

[ May 12, 2005, 04:38 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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Daruma28
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quote:
The threat level was last raised on a nationwide scale in December 2003, to orange from yellow — or "elevated" risk — where the alert level is now. In most cases, Ridge said Homeland Security officials didn't want to raise the level because they knew local governments and businesses would have to spend money putting temporary security upgrades in place.

"You have to use that tool of communication very sparingly," Ridge said at the forum, which was attended by seven other former department leaders.

The level is raised if a majority on the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council favors it and President Bush concurs. Among those on the council with Ridge were Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI chief Robert Mueller, CIA director George Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Misdirection? You went from a bunch of administration officials debating and disagreeing whether or not the level should be raised to
"Bush is purposely manipulating it to win re-election..AHA..IMPEACH HIM!!!!"

I don't personally believe those terrorist alert levels were particularly useful, but I don't think for a minute that they were purposely using them to try and scare people to vote for Bush either.

Apparently you forget the naysayers and critics that accused the Bush admin of not properly warning the public just before 9/11 about the significant chatter the intelligence picked up. So my reasoning that they might have decided to play it much more cautious and a little bit quicker to respond to potential threats is 'kneejerk excuse making?'

I'm not misdirecting anything...just trying to hold up the mirror so you can see that when you make such snap judgements and assume the worst immediately like that, you begin to look just like the right wing loonies that saw conspiracy and treachery in all things Clinton.

Oh, and my mentioning of the Democrats who ran just as quickly for cover as the rest of the capitol was simply to point out that more than a few prominent Democrats made the accusation that Bush admin was fabricating the terrorist threat to the country, yet when the possibility there may have been a terrorist attack about to occur, they sure didn't respond like they believed their own accusations. I wasn't pointing that out to make any kind of misdirection...just thought it was a point that I wanted to throw in without starting it's own thread. I suppose I could go back and dig up all those quotes....but like I initially thought, I don't think that would worth it's own thread.

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Sancselfieme
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Remember when the GOP convention was being held, they raised the terror alert and then three weeks later revealed they had raised it based off of 4 year old info.?

I remember when Bush's polls were at rock-bottom and he had Tom Ridge out desensitizing the public to the possibility of "postponing" the elections due to "possible terrorist threats." I think if he had actually done it there might have been a small-to-medium revolution.

[ May 12, 2005, 06:20 AM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Funean
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I feel bad for Tom Ridge, and Christine Whitman too; both popular, moderate Republican governors who were neutered by being placed in seemingly high-profile positions of responsibility in the Administration, but were really no-win situations. Both have discreetly indicated that they weren't fully empowered to run their departments. I wonder if they were profiled as possible contenders for 2004, way back in 2000 and 2001?

Interesting that both their states went blue in 2004, when they could have just as easily gone red. Not worth speculating over, but interesting.

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aupton15
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It is my understanding (and that is limited) that the final decision to change the terror alert did NOT belong to Tom Ridge, but was decided based on the panel of people (Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet, etc.). When Ridge says he didn't agree, that doesn't really mean that a near-consensus didn't occur. Ridge is a former governor, and he knows that when terror alerts go up, the states end up paying for a lot of the security increases. If anybody saw the danger is being over-cautious, it would be the former governor, wouldn't it? I'm not generally one to defend this administration, but I think it's possible that Ridge was right in why he disagreed, and they were still right to change the alert level.

This is all assuming that the terror alert system actually works, which is a whole other topic altogether.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

Oh, and my mentioning of the Democrats who ran just as quickly for cover as the rest of the capitol was simply to point out that more than a few prominent Democrats made the accusation that Bush admin was fabricating the terrorist threat to the country...

In all fairness, there's a huge difference between raising the terror threat to orange and actually issuing an evacuation order. I submit that even people who are skeptical and/or downright cynical about the utility and accuracy of "threat levels" would be inclined to respond to an actual evacuation.
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Wayward Son
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Now that you mention the Alert Levels, what is the current level? It seemed that last year, the alert level was being changed every three weeks or so. Now, I can't remember the last time it was changed, much less what it.

Is our country so much more safer now? So is the Administration de-emphazing the terrorist threat so that they can focus on SS reform? Hmmm...

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Everard
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There hasn't been a heightened terror alert since the election, as far as Ive been able to find out.
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Jordan
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Homeland Security website.

If you look in the top right-hand corner, you'll see the current threat level; the page I've linked to explains the system. On occasion I'll visit the TSWG site, which links to the alert advisory, so I can tell you that it hasn't slipped up or down significantly for some time.

A little research turned up the following details from the Whitehouse website:

March 12th, 2002 — threat level is "elevated".
(Homeland Security Advisory System made public public.)

September 10th, 2002 — raised from "elevated" to "high".
(For the first time since its inception in March 2002, due to intelligence surrounding the anniversary of the "flight 7/11" attacks.)

September 24th, 2002 — lowered from "high" to "elevated".
(Based on a review of intelligence reports, and passing the anniversary of September 11th.)

February 7th, 2003 — raised from "elevated" to "high".
(On account of Muslim holy period of Hajj.)

February 27th, 2003 — lowered from "high" to "elevated".
(Upon passing of Hajj.)

March 17th, 2003 — raised from "elevated" to "high".
(Because of preparations for a military campaign against Saddam Hussein.)

April 16th, 2003 — lowered from "high" to "elevated".
(After review of intelligence.)

May 20th, 2003 — raised from "elevated" to "high".
(Upon perceived threat of activity, particularly during a holiday involving large public gatherings.)

May 30th, 2003 — lowered from "high" to "elevated".
(Based on passing of several factors, such as Memorial Day.)

December 21st, 2003 — raised from "elevated" to "high".
(For the first time in six months, anticipating increased terrorist activity in the holiday season.)

January 9th, 2004 — lowered from "high" to "elevated".
(Believed that threat is diminished.)

August 1st, 2004 — increased threat level only in the financial sectors of New York, New Jersey and Washington DC.
(On gathering specific information regarding future terrorist targets.)

—————————————————————————————————

However, try as I might, I can't find anything about them increasing the threat level during the election period; in fact, all I've found are articles where they talk about not raising the threat level during 2004. Neither have I found anything to suggest that it was raised any time in 2005; make of that what you will.

(PS: You see, this is what happens when I get bored and have nothing better to do.)

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The Drake
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What an enormous leap. Terror alerts on light evidence implies that it was done to scare people into voting for Bush? I expect better from Ornery folks.

Below, are the colors. Culled from various sources, I may have missed some, but I did try hard to dig them all out of Google:


3/12/02 Yellow

9/10/02 Raised to orange
9/24/02 Lowered to yellow

2/7/03 Raised to orange
2/27/03 Lowered to yellow

3/10/03 Raised to orange
4/16/03 Lower to yellow

5/21/03 Raised to orange
5/30/03 Lowered to yellow
*A*
12/21/03 O
1/10/04 Y

3/17/04 O

8/1/04 O


This list is not exhaustive. Even though there are hundreds or thousands of blogs, websites, and forum threads devoted to the use of the terror alert system for Republican gain, there is precious little reference to the actual data.

Since nobody has a memo from Karl Rove asking Tom Ridge to set the terror alert level, we'd have only circumstantial evidence to determine political motivation - as opposed to a CYA instinct. So we'd want to try and correlate something in the data to something political. Did terror alerts correlate with low poll numbers for Bush, for example.

It is interesting to note that the gap I've labelled as *A* was seven months long (I did verify this gap as genuine) - so it is hardly unprecedented to have long stretches.

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OpsanusTau
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Um, is the threat level ever anything except "elevated" or "high"? If not, those seem like sort of inaccurate names for the threat levels.
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The Drake
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I should have waited, thanks Jordan.
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KnightEnder
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Really Drake? They raised the threat level during the elections which clearly favored Bush offered no reason for doing so, and now the guy that headed the office responsible for raising it is saying he didn't think it was necessary. If questioning bunk like that is not what you expect from Ornererians, then one of us doesn't understand the point of the forum.

KE

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KnightEnder
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It was one thing to say things like what Drake and Daruma have said when it was just idle speculation during the election, it is another thing to say it now that the guy that headed the office responsible for raising the level says he didn't think it was necessary.

And Daruma if I had said "because of this IMPEACH HIM!" Then you would have a point. But I said because of the preponderance of evidence that Bush & Co. have systematically lied to the people of the US, this last being just another straw, then he really should be impeached. Still hardly IMPEACH HIM! But I can't blame you for exagerating "what I really did say", you are after all a Republican.

KE

[ May 12, 2005, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
Really Drake? They raised the threat level during the elections which clearly favored Bush offered no reason for doing so, and now the guy that headed the office responsible for raising it is saying he didn't think it was necessary. If questioning bunk like that is not what you expect from Ornererians, then one of us doesn't understand the point of the forum.

KE

The actual quote is, "More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' "

Which only indicates that some people pushed for erring on the side of caution - or at least it does not favor that theory over the one that it is a politically motivated fear tactic.

Show me where I'm wrong, and I'll gladly correct my opinion.

I think DHS probably understood better than others in Washington what an elevated level meant to State agencies, who have to spend more money to implement increased security and prepare for rapid response. DHS personnel also had to take flack for "false" warnings - which was all of them luckily.

Additionally, I still haven't seen anything that would suggest that raising the threat levels actually did favor Bush. Did his polling numbers go up when a terror announcement was made? The vast majority of Americans considered the terror level changes to be a non-event - largely fodder for late night comedy.

On top of that, which alerts were issued in 2004 - the election year?

Question the motivations all you want, but the burden of proof is far from met.

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Jordan
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quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
But I can't blame you for exagerating "what I really did say", you are after all a Republican.

I hope that's what we call "deadpan"?


Drake,

No problem. In fact, it's a good thing we have two lists which are nearly identical (with the exception of 3/17/04 — what happened then?), because it verifies the accuracy of the data.

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LetterRip
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Here are some more

http://homepage.mac.com/gcatalone/iblog/B946297652/C722062357/E1905819813/

August 2, 2004
August 28, 2004
October 28, 2004
January 20, 2005

LetterRip

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LetterRip
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Also here is a timeline that contains more prior alerts

http://img70.exs.cx/my.php?loc=img70&image=aproval_vs_alert_chart_NEW.gif

LetterRip

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jefferson101
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It's a no-win situation as far as the alert thing goes.

If they have intelligence that suggests that something may happen, and they raise the level, but nothing happens, the choir sings "They are trying to in-tim-I-date us."

If they have intelligence that suggest that something may happen, and don't raise the level, and something does happen, the choir sings "They knew about it and didn't warn us."

Either song, of course, is accompanied by the obligatory background chants of "Cowboy Chimpy Bush-Hitler".

If they have reliable and solid information, all they have to do is go make some arrests, right? As long as they are working with faulty and/or incomplete data and guesswork, all they can do is what they can do. And whatever they do, somebody isn't going to like it.

I don't like it either, for that matter. I am of the opinion that they cry wolf far too often. But I can also see the logic in their thinking that it's better to be wrong and have nothing happen than be right and not have said anything.

[ May 12, 2005, 03:17 PM: Message edited by: jefferson101 ]

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Funean
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Perhaps the solution is to make fewer public terror alerts (what are we supposed to do, anyway? Buy tarps and duct tape?) and more targeted alerts to municipal and transportation authorities, who would then observe specific protocols about actions and public announcements, relative to the kind of warning.
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KnightEnder
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That old exuse.

Wouldn't it be reasonable to let the guy in charge of deciding if the Homeland is at threat make those decisions?

KE

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javelin
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KE - I believe he did. And the article doesn't contradict that.
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KnightEnder
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Bull.
quote:
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.
Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled...

Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert

Care to retract that last statement, Jav?

KE

[ May 12, 2005, 03:35 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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javelin
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Okay, I retract it, and apologize for making it.
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KnightEnder
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Bravo. I comend you for your integrity. Too many Ornererians would have launched into a semantic justification of what they said rather than admit they might have been hasty.

KE

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Daruma28
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{quote]But I can't blame you for exagerating "what I really did say", you are after all a Republican.[/quote]

lol...no, I'm a Libertarian. My Democratic minded side loves my guns, and my Republican minded side loves my pot, so I'm a registered Lib.

And I can't blame you for being hysterical and overly-dramatic when it comes to all things Bush...you are afterall a Democrat. [Wink]

And YES, I'm only joking. [Razz]

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Jordan
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Does anyone else notice that the later alerts tend to be for specific areas, rather than escalating the national threat level?
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KnightEnder
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I knew you'd say that. [Wink] (Libertarian indeed)

Jane only a liberal **** like you could say something like that! [Smile]

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KnightEnder
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You mean the ONE alert AFTER the election?

KE

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Funean:
Perhaps the solution is to make fewer public terror alerts (what are we supposed to do, anyway? Buy tarps and duct tape?)

I think scaling down the public announcements might be good. I just wonder what would happen in the 9/11 style commission after a new terror attack, if it came out that the government had a memo titled "Al-Quaida Planning to Attack Financial District" and DIDN'T publicize it...
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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
I knew you'd say that. [Wink] (Libertarian indeed)

Jane only a liberal **** like you could say something like that! [Smile]

Ah well, when the Republicans decide to get serious about securing the borders, cutting unneccessary spending, and actually reversing that piece of crap abomination of legislation -- McCain-Feingold -- and when they finally wake up to the reality that the "war on drugs" creates far more problems and violations of the Constitution than it solves, then I MIGHT consider changing my registration.
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KnightEnder
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If we get serious about those things will you consider joining us?

KE

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KnightEnder
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Quotes are from the chart LR links too. The chart shows that terror alerts have coincided with a drop in Bush's approval rating favored by an increase in his rating. I suppose this answers the question of whether terror alerts "helped" the president. A fact that should be self-evident since the majority of Americans continuously said that they felt 'safer' under GW.
quote:
There are few things that are quite evident from the chart:

- Whenever his ratings dip, there's a new terror alert.

- Every terror alert is followed by a slight uptick of Bush approval ratings.

- Whenever there are many unfavorable headlines, there's another alert or announcement (distraction effect).

- As we approach the 2004 elections, the number and frequency of terror alerts keeps growing, to the point that they collapse in the graphic. At the same time, Bush ratings are lower than ever.

Update: for the record, we are not claiming that all these alerts are politically motivated. We are sure a considerable amount of these alerts were legit and caused by real and immediate information of potential threats. What is important to note is that many of these "immediate" terror alerts were later on discredited (in some cases they used old data, in other cases the announcements were less immediate and less urgent that we were lead to believe, as the press reported.) Those are the cases that could be interpreted as politically motivated, especially when they seemed to coincide with political news and events unfavorable to the administration.

And all this was before the Alert for the election FOR NO KNOWN REASON, and before Tom Ridge admitted that he was outvoted on many ocassions by Bush & Co.

KE

[ May 12, 2005, 04:14 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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KnightEnder
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Terror alerts for no reason.
Terror alerts based on intelligence 3 & 4 years old.
Terror alerts in spite of Tom Ridge's objections.
Terror alerts enacted because Bush & Co. overrode Ridge.
Terror alerts improve Bush's approval ratings.
Terror alerts coincide with drops in Bush's approval ratings.
Terror alerts severely declined (1) since election. (And that for specific locals.)
Bush is known to fake news stories.
Bush and company manipulate the media. (White House press room for sure.)
Bush is known to manipulate crowds in order to make himself look better.
Bush & Co. faked commercials to tout their agenda.
Bush & Co. paid pundits to speak out in favor of their agendas as if it were their own views.
Rumsfeld (One of the ones that outvoted Ridge) was censured by a judge for 'leaking' information in order to influence a case.

Faced with all that evidence, I think I can safely say a preponderance (and that is just off the top of my head I'm sure I will think of more), do you guys still insist that it is out of the question that Bush & Co. manipulated the terrorist alerts for political gain?

[ May 12, 2005, 04:29 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
If we get serious about those things will you consider joining us?

KE

Not as long as all of the solutions involve increased centralization of Governmental power and economic redistribution ala socialism....but I doubt we'll see the Democrats abandon the socialist outlook anytime soon.

BTW - I HAVE voted for Democrats both Locally and for Rep. Neil Abercrombie back in the early 90's....while in the same election, I did vote for Papa Bush. I have never ever voted a straight party ticket during my entire voting life.

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The Drake
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For the record, I never said that it was out of the question. I don't necessarily agree with everything in your list, but there is some credible data.

I would contest that the data really supports the idea that Bush got a ratings jump with a terror announcement. But, that isn't entirely revealing, since what matters most is whether Bush's people THOUGHT it would help him.

Did it enter anyone's mind how the alerts would play politically? I suppose it would have to, wouldn't it? It's not like you're going to take a major action in the election cycle without thinking of how it plays to the public.

So I'm going to change my mind on this one, now that there's data to support it. I'm going to say that some of the people arguing against Tom Ridge probably did have political motives, and that some of those motives were probably related to the President's popularity rating.

I'm not sure its as nefarious as some people imply, but it probably happened.

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jefferson101
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Originally posted by KnightEnder:
Terror alerts for no reason.
Terror alerts based on intelligence 3 & 4 years old.
Terror alerts in spite of Tom Ridge's objections.
Terror alerts enacted because Bush & Co. overrode Ridge.


And you are privy to the intelligence involved, and so can make these determinations so clearly? You are working off of what has been reported in the media. And we all know how much spin there is on most of that. (Or at least I hope we all do!)

The other assumption you make is that Tom Ridge was getting all of the information that was being used to make those decisions.

Terror alerts improve Bush's approval ratings.
Terror alerts coincide with drops in Bush's approval ratings.


You yourself admitted that the "improvements" were pretty much just statistical blips. As were most of the declines. His approval ratings haven't varied by much over five or six points (+/- 2.5 to 3 off the median) in the last year. Which makes it pretty much a wash, based on the polling uncertanty levels.

Terror alerts severely declined (1) since election. (And that for specific locals.)

So have events which prompt them. We haven't had many political party conventions, or G-8 meetings, or suchlike since then, either. A lot of the alerts were event specific.

Bush is known to fake news stories.
Bush and company manipulate the media. (White House press room for sure.)


"Fake" news stories? Yeah. Spin and Government tweaking of the data in press releases were totally unknown before GWB was inagurated.

And the "manipulation" of the White House press room is about as thin as you can get. When the press corps present in the White House briefing room unanamously voted for your opposition in the last election, you don't suspect that there might be some suspicion that it could be improved by getting a few folks who treat Bush like Dan Rather, Katie Couric, and everyone else in the media treated his predecessor?

Bush is known to manipulate crowds in order to make himself look better.

Oh, my! The horror! Once more, he's not doing anything that hasn't been done by every politician in the last 50 years.

[/b]Bush & Co. faked commercials to tout their agenda.[/b]

"Faked" again? How come when he does it, it's faking. Everyone else just put a positive light on their stuff.

Bush & Co. paid pundits to speak out in favor of their agendas as if it were their own views.

That was profoundly stupid, but again, I'll bet it's not the first time.

Rumsfeld (One of the ones that outvoted Ridge) was censured by a judge for 'leaking' information in order to influence a case.

So?

Faced with all that evidence, I think I can safely say a preponderance (and that is just off the top of my head I'm sure I will think of more), do you guys still insist that it is out of the question that Bush & Co. manipulated the terrorist alerts for political gain?

If that's the way you want to spin it. But that's what it is, likely as not.

---------------------------------------------

AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH!

I purely hate it when people do this to me. I'm scarcely Bush's biggest fan. In point of fact, on a 10 point scale, I'd give him about a 4 or maybe a 4.5 (Best case, 2/10 on domestic policy, and 7/10 on foreign policy) He's scarcely showing on the boards.

But I hate it when people get on him for the wrong reasons.

And clearly, I think those were.

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