The news this morning that former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge believed that President Bush and his top advisers manipulated the terror threat alert system for their political gain is really -- and it ought to be -- a major story. Ridge was in a position to know, for certain, whether this was the case. And though he's hinted at it before, he now says, in his soon-to-be-released book, that he was pressured into raising the alert level before the 2004 election. Let's see what Ridge actually writes before making too many conclusions.
Ben Smith at Politico adds:
An abuse so gross -- if Ridge is right -- shows, among other things, what a powerful influence on the all-important tracking polls terror alerts must have had. And it suggests that Obama's efforts to keep terror arrests out of the national news are good politics too.
I am sure this is not surprising news to many people, especially those who were claiming that this was happening at the time, but it is still worthy of note.
Another interesting piece of information that has come out, is that the CIA apparently hired the private mercenary firm Blackwater (now Xe) to help carry out political assassinations. From Democracy Now:
The New York Times is reporting the CIA hired the private military firm Blackwater as part of a secret program to assassinate top operatives of al-Qaeda. Executives from Blackwater helped the spy agency with planning, training and surveillance. The CIA spent several million dollars on the program, which the Times claims did not successfully capture or kill any terrorist suspects.
I, for one, am hoping that Jeremy Scahill can get some more details on Blackwater's involvement in this program.