Maddow blasts Ridge for clinging to Iraq war justification
Published: September 2, 2009
Updated 1 day ago
During a three-part interview with former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge on Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow made some hard-hitting points on revelations that the “Terror Threat Level” system was manipulated for political purposes during the Bush Administration.
On the program to promote his new book “The Test of Our Time”, the former Pennsylvania governor seemed taken aback as Maddow took him to task as being a “crucial” part of a “false case to the American people.” As Jay Rosen aptly tweeted, “To work himself out of the bind she had gotten him into, Ridge actually disavowed the jacket copy of his own book under Maddow’s questioning.”
MADDOW: I think you making that argument right now is why Republicans after the Bush and Cheney administration are not going to get back the country’s trust on national security. To look back at that decision and say ‘we got it wrong but it was in good faith’ and not acknowledge the foregone conclusion that we are going to invade Iraq that pervaded every decision that was made about intelligence. Looking back at that decision-making process, it sounds like you’re making the argument that you would have made the same decision again.
Americans need to believe that our government would not make that wrong a decision, that would not take such a foregone conclusion to such an important issue, that the intelligence that proved the opposite point was all discounted, that the intelligence was combed through for any bit that would fit the foregone conclusion of the policymakers. The system was broken and if you don’t see that the system was broken and you think that it was just that the intel was wrong - I think that you’re one of the most trusted voices on national security for the Republican party, and I think that is the elephant in the room. I don’t think you guys get back your credibility on national security until you realize that was a wrong decision made by policy makers; that wasn’t the spies fault.
RIDGE: Well, I think you are suggesting that it was only driven by, quite obviously the people who made the decision knew more about the threat than you and I do. And again I think it is a pretty radical conclusion to suggest that men and women entrusted with the safety of this country would predicate a decision upon any other basis other than to keep America safe. Later on it may have proven that some of the information was inaccurate, but there were plenty of reasons to go into Iraq at the time - the foremost were the weapons of mass destruction, that obviously proven to be faulty. But the fact of the matter is, at that time, given what they knew, and they knew more than what you and I did, it seemed to be the right thing to do and the decision was made in what they considered to be in the best interest of our country.
In her closing points on the subject, Maddow adds “If you can go back in time and sell the American people on the idea that 4,000 Americans ought to lose their lives and we ought to lose those trillions of dollars for democracy in Iraq, you have a wilder imagination than I do. We were sold that war because of 9/11. We were sold that war because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction from this guy who didn’t have them, and our government should have known it. And frankly a lot of people believe our government did know it and it was a cynical decision.” She then concludes with “Maybe everybody wasn’t in on it and maybe that is a radical thing to conclude…”
Mr. Ridge did thank Maddow for the civility of their discussion before the end of the program.
New York University professor and press critic Jay Rosen went so far as to call Maddow’s measured, piercing performance “one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever seen on television.”
Links to all three videos can be found at: