Terror Alerts: Orange You Glad We Got High?

Remember how some crazies accused the Bush administration of using the Homeland Security terror alert system to manipulate public opinion? Well...not such a crazy idea after all. A couple of key paragraphs from USA Today:
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.
"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). ... There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?'"
The level is raised if a majority on the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council favors it and President Bush concurs. Among those on the council with Ridge were Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI chief Robert Mueller, CIA director George Tenet, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
(Via Eric Boehlert.)

But the administration would never use fear for political advantage, right?

Take a gander at an intriguing timeline and chart, courtesy of Julius Civitatus, that put the terror alerts in the context of events and presidential approval ratings. (Via Atrios.)

As Hermann Göring famously said: "...voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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