Administration Officials Make Case For Terror Alert, Say Politics Not Involved
Officials continued to defend the Administration's decision to raise the terror alert level last week. The timing the move, and the fact the some of the information that prompted the warning was several years-old, had led some to accuse President Bush of using the terror threat to further his reelection goals. In yesterday's political talk-shows, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice defended the Administration, stating "absolutely" that "there was absolutely no politics involved in this decision." Asked whether it was a mistake for Homeland Security Secretary Ridge not to mention that some of the information used in the latest terror alert is not recent, Rice said, "I don't think that it really occurred to us to mention it, and I'll tell you why. Al Qaeda does meticulous planning over many years." Former New York City mayor and Bush backer Rudolph Giuliani appeared on CNN's Late Edition and ABC's This Week to defends the Administration's handling of the terror alert, and said, "I think the system is working. I mean, the reality is that you really can't have it both ways. I mean, there's a certain level of criticism about the prior administration and the one before it, you know, during the September 11 Commission hearings, that they didn't give enough warnings . . . And so, if you take that criticism, you take that seriously, well then, probably this administration, any administration, would err on the side of probably putting out warnings whenever you have them. And those look like pretty serious threats to me. They were specific sites, specific types of attacks."
In this morning's Wall Street Journal, meanwhile DHS Secretary Tom Ridge writes, "Most of the time the threat intelligence we glean. . .is frustratingly general and gray. Last week that was not the case. The information we received was uniquely specific. In spite of that, some have questioned the relevance of the information and the motivation behind sharing it. . . . Let me state what should go without stating: There is no place for politics in homeland security."
Rice Criticizes Kerry's Comments About Bush's Reaction To 9/11 Attacks.
On NBC's Meet the Press, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was asked about Sen. John Kerry's claim that he would have reacted differently than President Bush upon receiving word that the 9/11 attacks had occurred. Rice said, "I just can't imagine that you would say something like that. The president of the United States was confronted with one of the greatest tragedies that had befallen the United States in our 200-plus years of history. He decided on the spot that he was not going to alarm the 3rd-graders, he was not going to alarm the American people. He was going to proceed in a calm way. That was the right thing to do." Rice added, "I really don't think that talking about that seven minutes, although the president handled that seven minutes correctly, in my view, has anything to do with how one would carry forward the war on terrorism."