Terror Alerts - Substance
By Gov. Howard Dean,
August 10, 2004
terror alerts are based
solely on politics. However, I do have some concerns that the
timing of this announcement seems to be based on an election
Over the past week there has been a lot of controversy about
whether President Bush is using the timing of terror alerts to
bolster his re-election campaign. Terrorism is a very serious
issue and I do not believe that the
Let's look at the facts:
- Bush strategist Karl Rove
told members of the Republican National Committee during a January
2002 speech that Republicans "can go to the country"
on national security issues and invited his party to politicize
the war in an election year. And according to The Associated
Press, a White House strategy for the 2002 elections - formulated
by top presidential advisors - advised Republican candidates
to campaign with messages highlighting the war on terrorism.
- The Al Qaeda operative whose
capture led to the release of information was captured on July
13, twenty days before President Bush's press conference. The
bulk of the information received was over three years old, some
was eight months old. Even if the computer discs were found a
few days after the capture of the terrorist, that means that
the administration either chose the timing of the release, presumably
for political reasons, or they lacked the resources to process
the information in a timely manner.
- The day after Ridge was accused
of considering politics for the timing of the announcement, he
suddenly claimed that it took them a long time to process and
translate the information.
- The administration has denied
that the Department of Homeland Security gets involved in politics.
In fact, last year the Department of Homeland Security was
reportedly used for political purposes when it attempted to track
down the whereabouts of Texas lawmakers who left the state to
foil a Republican attempt to gerrymander Texas congressional
- And, the Department of Homeland
Security played the political card again at the press conference
on August 1. Ridge spent time informing Americans that the President
was a great leader in the fight against terror. Ridge said, "We
must understand that the kind of information available to us
today is the result of the President's leadership in the war
- This is not the first or second
time this administration has misled the public. For example,
Weapons of Mass Destruction still have not been found in Iraq
even though President Bush convinced the American public
and Congress that this was one of the primary reasons to support
sending approximately 135,000 troops to Iraq.
- I am not the only person to
believe that the timing of this announcement was somewhat based
on politics. News organizations like the Associated Press, The
Washington Post and The New York Times interviewed national security
experts and political strategists, including a "top GOP
operative" and "some senior Republicans" who have
also questioned the timing of this announcement.
Terror is one of the most serious
short term problems America faces and along with the soaring
deficits and the continuing degradation of our environment, it
is one of our most serious long term problems. All of us
want the President to succeed in fighting this incredible threat.
I am one American who would like to see more substance
and less politics in this fight, so I can look forward to a future
filled with hope, not fear.
Email Howard Dean at
Howard Dean, M.D. and former
governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy
for America, a grassroots organization that supports socially
progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates.
Copyright 2004 Howard
All Rights Reserved.
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