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July 14, 2009

Horrors of a Different Color

Ridge color codes.jpg

It was curious coming upon this image this morning more than nine years down the road. Its circulating on the wire with the disclosure of the secret CIA assassination program, the rumblings about a Justice Dept. investigation into the Bush/Cheney torture regime, but particularly, news the Administration is finishing up a review of the color-coded terror alert system.

Even if history dramatically tempers emotion and memory, one can’t overestimate how traumatized Americans were on and immediately after 9/11. (What compounded the lesson for me was experiencing the intense effect on and through my patients.) In considering the photo now, however (given this photo dates from a year-and-a-half after “the events of September 1, 2001″), what’s important, if not necessary to attempt to do is imagine a realistic response to the attack, on the one hand, as distinct from the paranoia of Cheney and the histrionics of Bush, on the other.

(image: Joe Marquette/A.P. caption: In this March 12, 2002 file photo, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge unveils a color-coded terrorism warning system in Washington. The Obama administration will announce Tuesday, July 14, 2009, that it will review the nation’s multicolored terror alert system that was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks)

  • Jeff

    The context of this photo when it originally appeared is interesting. On Mar 12 2003, when the photo was taken, The Colors were rolled out. On March 17, Bush ordered Saddam to leave Iraq in 48 hours. On March 19 Bush declared war.
    The caption makes no mention of the Iraq war despite the close proximity of the photo to the war. It is dated relative to 9/11.

  • yg

    you have patients?
    at the other end of the rainbow was a pot of gold.

  • Apple

    I surely hope the date typo in the narrative is not prophetic!
    Wonder if Dr. Krauthammer (Fox’s psychiatrist) was consulted when choosing the colors for the maximum fear effect. The photo looks like it’s a still from some kind of a 50’s horror movie.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/bagnews Michael Shaw (The BAG)

    yg,
    Guess I don’t mention my “other day job” that much anymore, but it’s in the site bio. And Apple, thanks for the pick-up on “2011.”

  • gryphon

    the mantra Terrorist Attack repeated no less than 5 times on one poster. it subliminally adds up in your brain even though you skip over it when glancing at it. so soothing..
    we’ll have none of this
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Calm_and_Carry_On
    behaviour here…

  • http://theforgottenwar.blogspot.com Sergei Andropov

    It seems quaint to me, like a still from an old game show. I half expect someone in the audience to leap up with an oversized hammer, whack the ground in front of the sign, watch the bottom four rectangles light up, and receive a consolation prize from Secretary Ridge’s lovely assistant.

  • Jeff

    Good catch — there’s a couple of errors here. The photo was taken March 2002 — that’s six months, not a year and a half, from September 2001. And it’s a year, not a week, from the war on Iraq.
    The post above (by me) about context of the photo is wrong.

  • Apple

    Exactly! Very funny. The whole exercise to me was comical at the time but now each time I see one of these things at an airport I feel disgusted by the way we’ve been used and abused.

  • croatoan

    May 2005: “The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.”
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8813.htm

  • yg

    the conveniently timed alerts were also used to take the heat off whenever an emerging bush scandal started to erupt and begun to gain traction.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e5523476cc8834 DennisQ

    Tom Ridge gave up being Governor of Pennsylvania to direct Homeland Security. It was the dumbest move he ever made, because it made him the face of the Bush administration’s absurd paranoia.
    Gov. Ridge became a laughing stock because of the duct tape and the color codes. If he’d had the sense to turn down the offer, he might be the United States senator from Pennsylvania today.
    Never say nothing good came of the Global War on Terror. Anything that ends a conservative Republican’s promising career has something going for it.

  • jtfromBC

    My first choice of Bush era theatre was;
    ‘No longer will US Attorney General John Ashcroft appear in public with a semi-nude statue towering above him.
    The US Justice Department has spent $8,000 on curtains to hide the statue from the camera’
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1788845.stm
    Is this Lady still under cover ?

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