In October of 2004, a videotaped message from Osama Bin Laden surfaced. There were mere days until the election. There was, of course, a Homeland Security meeting. According to Ridge, an internal consensus was reached that they did not need to raise the threat level to orange. Security was heightened already in advance of the election, but had not been officially designated as a new threat level. Then the decision was brought to a security meeting with the FBI, the State Department, the Defense Department and so on. According to Ridge, Ashcroft argues for raising the threat level, while Ridge argues against. Here is the apparent money quote:
"I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?'"
He wondered. "There was no consensus reached at that session, and we took it upon ourselves to keep it that way,"
he concludes, which I can only assume is what we are supposed to call "thwarting" a "plan" to raise the alert level.
It is possible, at this point, that you find none of this very definitive. But that is OK, because Tom Ridge has a definitive statement for you. Earlier in the book, addressing the allegations that political pressure had been applied to raise threat levels, Ridge has this to say:
"Let me make it very clear. I was never directed to do so no matter how many analysts, pundits or critics say so."
That is very clear indeed, Secretary Ridge.