Frances Townsend, the former Homeland Security Adivser to the Bush administration, took to the airwaves this morning to dispute Tom Ridge's claim that some administration officials wanted to raise the terrorism threat level before the 2004 election for political reasons.
Townsend: Not only do I not think that it – that politics played any part in it at all – it was never discussed. In fact, the only thing that was discussed was – earlier that summer there had been a threat against the financial district, there was the Bin Laden tape, and then there was another tape, Kiran, by Adam Gadahn a U.S. citizen who was a member of al Qaeda. And it was a very threatening tape. And so the discussion really revolved around what the intelligence was. There was no discussion of politics whatsoever.
Okay, Townsend is clearly quite a literalist. She takes everyone at face value. In her opinion, a person can't have hidden or unspoken motivations.
Unless, it seems, that person is Tom Ridge. From the same interview:
Chetry: When we talk about whether or not politics played in to any of this equation, a lot of people say perhaps there are some political ambitions on the part of Tom Ridge and that he wants to perhaps separate himself from the Bush administration in some ways moving forward. Do you think that what he wrote or what he’s alleging here perhaps has a political motivation?
Townsend: I’ve got to believe it does, Kiran. And I’m sorry to say that because I really enjoyed working with Tom Ridge. But I will tell you not only did he never say this at the time – that he thought political influence was involved in the raising or lowering of the threat level – he’s never said it since when I’ve spoken to him. And just two weeks ago – I’m co-chairing along with Bill Webster a bipartisan task force to make recommendations to Secretary Napolitano now about the threat advisory system. One of the things we obviously did was ask Tom Ridge and Secretary Chertoff to come in and talk to the panel. This is two weeks ago. And Tom Ridge never in that meeting ever mentioned any concern and he mentioned what concerns he had. He never mentioned any concern about politicization of the threat advisory system. So you’ve got to believe that this is personally motivated in some way.
And I would never for a second think that Townsend's defense of the Bush administration isn't personally motivated in some way either.