Terror Alerts - Substance or Politics?
August 9, 2004
By Gov. Howard Dean M.D.
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 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 strategy.
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
- 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 against terror.”
- 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
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Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy for America, a grassroots organization that supports socially progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates.
Email Howard Dean at email@example.com
Copyright 2004 Howard Dean, All Rights Reserved.
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