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Fran Townsend: We Discussed If Raising The Terror Alert Would Hurt Bush

According to Townsend, that debate primarily took place between John McLaughlin, then-acting director of the CIA, and John Brennan, Bush's head of the national counterterrorism center and Obama's current homeland security adviser.

Townsend also said that she agreed with Ridge at the time that there was no basis to raise the threat level, but she chaired the meeting because "we knew there were others who wanted to, so we wanted to have that conversation."

"What [Ridge's] book doesn't say is the most eloquent case for not raising the threat level was made by Secretary of State Colin Powell, not by Tom. And Bob Mueller, at great personal risk - remember, his boss John Ashcroft was advocating to raise it - Bob Mueller himself made an eloquent case not to raise it," she said.

The threat advisory system is currently under review by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano - and Townsend herself is part of that process. Napolitano appointed Townsend and former FBI and CIA director Judge William Webster to co-chair the review task force. Townsend told CNN how she invited Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff to give their opinions on it to the panel.

"This was two weeks ago, and Tom Ridge never mentioned any concerns - and he had some concerns - about politicization of the threat advisory system. You have to think this is personal, or publicity to sell more books."

CNN said they reached out to Ridge for comment as well, but "he's not doing any media right now."