I thought the color alerts were a joke at the time, and mixing politics with terror was a favored tactic of the Bush administration. In August 2004, the AP reported that even “some senior Republicans” privately questioned Ridge’s timing of a terror alert that came just three days after the Democratic National Convention. According to the AP report, “One top GOP operative, who works closely with Bush’s political team, said the White House appeared to overplay its hand, and voters may smell politics behind the warning." Ridge says he was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over."Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was “blindsided” by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over."
But Ridge avoided that charge whenever it came up. On Aug. 3, 2004, he denied any such political pressure or politicization with a quote DHS used every time this question was asked.
"We don’t do politics in the Department of Homeland Security."That was true for his successor Michael Chertoff who did not issue a conveniently timed alert during his 4 years in office. But liberals were ridiculed for believing that Ridge used color alerts for politic gain. Richard Morin wrote a Washington Post piece, where he cited the politicized color code worry to make fun of Democrats:
"Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, it has been an article of faith that the terrorism issue works to the huge political benefit of President Bush and to the disadvantage of the Democrats. As a consequence, some Democratic stalwarts privately wonder whether administration officials might spring a late October surprise in the form of an orange alert in order to help President Bush win reelection. Such cynicism!"