Last week, when word got out about Ridge's accusations, Rumsfeld's spokesman Keith Urbahn issued a statement calling them "nonsense."
Now, Ridge says he did not mean to suggest he was pressured to raise the threat level, and he is not accusing anyone of trying to boost Bush in the polls. "I was never pressured," Ridge said.
The former secretary and Pennsylvania governor, who now heads a security consulting firm called Ridge Global, also said in the interview that:
• He and his immediate successor, Michael Chertoff, recently were asked to speak with a panel considering changes to the color-coded threat advisory system for new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
• He is "dumbfounded" that the government still has no way to track foreign visitors who don't leave the country when their visas expire, noting that two of the 9/11 hijackers were in the country on expired visas.
• Government officials and members of Congress rarely discuss homeland security issues and have "lost the sense of urgency" about protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. Because of the economy and growing budget deficits, he also is worried about funding for future efforts to tighten security.
(full story here USA Today)