Revolution #174, August 30, 2009

On Tom Ridge's Revelation of Pressure by the Bush Regime to Jack Up Terror Alerts...

How Much Is a Liar's Word Worth?

Implemented six months after September 11, 2001, color-coded "terror alerts" scrolled on the bottom of TV screens, and opened newscasts. They became part of the background noise for years—alternating between Red—severe risk… Orange—high risk… and Yellow—elevated risk. (The "terror alerts" were never blue or green— the lower risk colors). And under the rubric of these "terror alerts," spying and repression by the U.S. government was radically intensified.

Now come revelations from the former head of Homeland Security that top officials of the Bush regime pushed to spike the "terror alert" ratings for political gain on the eve of the 2004 presidential election.

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In the atmosphere created in part by the "terror alerts," people who looked like they might be Middle Eastern were dragged off of airplanes. Brutal detention centers were filled with "suspicious" people who were accused of breaking no laws. Open kidnapping and legalized torture, along with new extremes in secret detention and torture were implemented to "keep Americans safe." The supposed right to free speech was recast as "watch what you say," and constant warnings were issued to the general public to "report all suspicious activity"—to turn in their neighbors or fellow passengers for dissenting views or non-conformist behavior.

Today, the color codes have been phased out, but the climate of fear and policies of repression continue. Torturers, and those who ordered torture (to "keep America safe") have been promised immunity. Barack Obama proposes preventative detention as a "solution" to the scandal of Guantánamo. In Los Angeles, the LAPD keeps track of people who take pictures or video footage "with no apparent esthetic value," who "take notes," or espouse what the LAPD considers "extremist" views—and this program has been promoted as a national model by Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

But now, in his upcoming book, The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again, former Homeland Security head Tom Ridge says he was pressured by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, to influence the outcome of the election!

It isn't just that the Bush Regime was pressuring Homeland Security to jack up terror alerts for political purposes. For years, it was verboten for any "credible" or "legitimate" political figure or journalist to even question whether the public was being manipulated by false "terror alerts." On the MSNBC show Hardball (August 21, 2009),'s Joan Walsh noted that leading up to the 2004 presidential election, when Howard Dean—who lost the Democratic nomination to John Kerry—charged that terror alerts were used manipulated to get Bush elected, "John Kerry had to come out and smack Howard Dean, who was telling the truth about this—that they were politicizing the terror warnings—because he didn't want to be seen as some kind of left-wing lunatic." (Another guest on the same show, Ron Reagan, responded, "Isn't it funny how left-wing lunacy turns into reality after a few years?")

Whatever Ridge's motivation, the implications of his revelation are damning. The "threat of terrorist attack" as reported by the government has been the supposed rationale for draconian changes that have taken place in this country over the past eight years. On a par with the manufactured lies about "weapons of mass destruction," the terror alert system was integral to justifying the domestic repression component of the "war on terror."

Week in, week out, more comes to light about how consistently, and wildly, those who run this system lie about the most basic facts—and use those lies to justify war and repression. Willie Nelson once sang, "How much is a liar's word worth?" The question that must be asked now by everyone is: Why should a system that perpetrated the "weapons of mass destruction" hoax to justify a horrific war on Iraq, whose leaders pushed to jack up "terror alerts" for their own political interests, be believed about anything that comes from its mouthpieces?

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