Ridge says administration didn’t push him

    Tom Ridge’s book, “The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege,” includes a controversial section about whether decisions to raise the terror alert system were political.

    Former Pennsylvania Governor and the country’s first Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge kicked off a book tour with a reading at the Philadelphia Free Library Thursday night. The new book “The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege,” includes a controversial section
    about whether decisions to raise the terror alert system were political.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090903spalert.mp3]

    When the color-coded terror alert warnings were first introduced, they provided plenty of fodder for comedians. The system was back in the news recently when some interpreted a passage from Ridge’s new book as saying that the decisions to raise the terror alert system were political. But Ridge says that’s a misinterpretation.

    Ridge: Nobody could pressure anybody, I was never pressured, nobody ever picked up the phone to make the call. The only time we raised the threat level was when there was a consensus of the President’s cabinet to raise it. The President couldn’t raise it unilaterally he had to have the consensus of the cabinet to raise it.

    Ridge says potential al Qaeda threats made just before the 2004 election prompted dramatic discussion. But the decision was made not to raise the alert. He said President Bush was never involved in the decision, and that the process worked.

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