Last day at the Library of Congress


Today’s my final day here at the Kluge Center in Washington, DC. It’s been a great experience, and I’ve managed to talk to lots of interesting people about my project on homeland security. A big thank you to all the very helpful staff at the Kluge Center, the Library of Congress, and my interviewees… 


My last interview, earlier this week, was with Admiral James Loy. The Admiral was the US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005, and Acting Secretary during the transition between Secretaries Ridge and Chertoff. As well as making him an expert on all things homeland security (!), this also means he participated in meetings where the threat level (the former colour-coded terrorist alert level) was determined. Spurred by a paper from then PhD student Robb Willer (see my earlier post), accusations abounded in the popular media during Loy’s tenure that the threat level was a tool used to boost President Bush in the polls. Willer’s paper, although not speaking to intentions, had found a significant statistical correlation between threat level changes and polled approval of the President. Admiral Loy, of course, was perfectly placed to judge the veracity of such claims. When I asked him whether there had been any political manipulation of the alerts, he was unequivocal: it simply did not occur, he said, political opportunism was never part of the discussion. 






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