Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Obama Issues Guidelines for 9/11/01 10th Anniversary Memorials

The Obama adminstration has released guidance to American politicians and spokespeople and a different one to the international audience, such as Ambassadors and diplomats abroad, on how to speak about the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. This is puzzling to many as we approach the 10th anniversary of the devastating events of 9/11/01.

The talking points link the attacks "from Mumbai to Manila" yet do not mention Israel in the list of those suffering from terror attacks. It is also troubling that it took the administration "weeks" to decide what the message would be to government officials everywhere.

The White House has issued detailed guidelines to government officials on how to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with instructions to honor the memory of those who died on American soil but also to recall that Al Qaeda and other extremist groups have since carried out attacks elsewhere in the world, from Mumbai to Manila.

The White House in recent days has quietly disseminated two sets of documents. One is framed for overseas allies and their citizens and was sent to American embassies and consulates around the globe. The other includes themes for Americans here and underscores the importance of national service and what the government has done to prevent another major attack in the United States. That single-page document was issued to all federal agencies, officials said.

After weeks of internal debate, White House officials adopted the communications documents to shape public events and official statements, and they sought to strike a delicate balance between messages designed for these two very important but very different audiences on a day when the wrold's attention will be focused on President Obama, his leadership team and his nation.

"His nation"? Well, it's The New York Times.

The guidelines list what themes to underscore - and, just as important, what tone to set. Officials are instructed tomemorialize those who died in the Sept.11, 2001, attacks and thank those in the military, law enforcement, intelligence or homeland security for their contributions since.

An official is quoted as asserting that it is important that we realize the 9/11 attacks were not "just about us." So wrong. So very, very wrong.

Let us be clear - the attacks of that day were the worst our country has ever experienced. It is also the largest attack of terrorism ever experienced in the whole. Yes, the entire world. The events were specifically aimed at our government, at our nation's people.

Wednesday morning brought a bit of pushback from one who provided leadership at that time. "The attacks of 9/ll/01 were not a global attack, they were attacks on America", said former New York Governor Pataki. To lump the events of the day with other terrorist attacks around the world - like those that have occurred in Mumbai or Pakistan - demeans our history of the day.

The domestic guidelines, entitled "9/11 Anniversary Planning", are shorter and less prescriptive than the talking points created for overseas audiences. For example, they note that the ceremonies will honor Americans killed in the Sept. 11 attacks but also "all victims of terrorism, including those who had been targeted by Al Qaeda and other groups around the globe."

The victims of the 9/11 attacks are not entitled to their own day of remembrance? They must also be remembered with other victims of terrorism around the globe? Why? This is a day honoring the 9/11/01 victims. Period.

And, do not overlook the campaign mode in the tone of these guidelines.

The domestic guidelines also ask something of Americans that has been lacking in Washington: "We will also draw on the spirit of unity that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks."

More of the same - blaming Congress for the failures of the President and his administration. He is running for re-election and his record is not one that voters are happy with, so he needs a scapegoat. He will use Congress to take to task. Watch him.

Make no mistake - President Bush also reached out to all communities, especially Muslims, after the 9/11 attacks. He repeatedly called for unity. Just days after the attacks, he asked holy men of all faiths - including an Imam - to participate in the national memorial service in Washington, D.C. President Bush always referred to the fact that 90 countries lost citizens on that day when he spoke of the victims. It was the right thing to do, it is leadership we all expect from our President. To take it further and incorporate it into a re-election campaign dishonors the families and loved ones of those lost on that day. And, it certainly does not honor the victims.

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