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The Cowboy Who Cried Wolf

Friday, Aug. 21, 2009 3:57 AM

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge admits, in advance of his forthcoming book, The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again, that he was pressured to raise the terror threat level just before the 2004 Election.

That shouldn't be too much of a surprise, considering the 'threat rainbow' always seemed to have more to do with distracting the public from President Bush's latest mess than the looming threat of terrorism.

And, of course, it should be noted that the threat level was raised, so Ridge's objections were ignored and/or he wasn't in charge of spit.

I maintain that our security policy has to be flexible and in-depth. Furthermore, silliness like the threat rainbow is counter-productive, because it encourages fear among the populace - the exact goal of the terrorists.

If you want some kind of advisory capability, it needs to be informative and instill confidence in the populace, not fear and worry.

And so should our national dialogue. If you're a child and you run to your parents' bedroom because there's a noise or something that has frightened you, most parents tell you there's nothing to be afraid of. They'll provide a night light so you can see this is true, or check under the bed or in the closet for monsters.

This is not to say we're little kids that need taking care of, but that we need to confront the 'fear' portion of the terrorist equation in a sensible, responsible fashion because we're thinking, mature adults who know better.

The running patter of they're-gonna-come-here-and-take-over is exactly the opposite approach, and it's spilling over into everything else, including the debate over healthcare reform.

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