Opinion: Listen up! Here’s how Obama wants 9/11 observed


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You may have thought as a regular American citizen you were capable of marking the upcoming 10th anniversary of the deadly 9/11 attacks in your own quiet, sad way as you and your family choose.

However, in its infinite federal wisdom and one-size-fits-all philosophy, the Obama White House has drafted a set of detailed orders for how it wants the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks observed, both at home and abroad.


We’re not kidding.

After weeks of quiet internal planning, two sets of guidelines were dispatched by the Democratic administration, one for American representatives to use abroad and another to all federal agencies at home.

Suggestions for elaborate programs including speeches and other ceremonies to mark the murder of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, were discarded by the administration in favor of low-key appearances by President Obama and a few other officials.

They are to emphasize that the day’s observances are ‘not just about us,’ an unidentified administration source told the N.Y. Times, which obtained copies of the plans ...

... and talking point documents. Of particular concern to Obama, The Times reports, is how the immediate post-attack sympathies for America in some foreign circles turned to anger at the U.S. responses on detention and interrogation by a certain U.S. president who immediately preceded Obama in the Oval Office. Some 9/11 guidelines are common sense. U.S. diplomats, for instance, are reminded to acknowledge the ensuing losses and sacrifices of many nations to terrorist attacks during the past decade since 9/11. And there are the usual tribute reminders for military personnel, police and first responders, among others, for their ongoing community service and sacrifices.

However, other Obama administration guidelines are more striking, even strange. For example, officials are to ‘minimize references to Al Qaeda’ because Osama bin Laden is dead and ‘Al Qaeda and its adherents have become increasingly irrelevant.’

Wait, say what? Irrelevant? So, the nearly 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan are after who, Butch Cassidy?

This 10th anniversary 9/11 talking point comes out in the same month as the downing of a U.S. helicopter killing 38 troops, the deadliest incident of the Afghan war, making this the deadliest month for Americans in the 10-year conflict.

Do you think minimizing Al Qaeda’s capabilities in the face of fatal evidence to the contrary could be connected with Obama’s desire for a rapid U.S. troop withdrawal before the 2012 presidential election?

Puzzlingly, at the same time as officials marking 9/11 are instructed to downplay the Al Qaeda crowd, they are to warn Americans about real oncoming future terror attacks and the need for resilience in recovery from those inevitable losses.

Now, that point could provoke lively discussion during next week’s Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Presidential Library.

Such attacks, the Obama guidelines suggest, would provide the opportunity for renewed community service and a kind of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do national social unity unlike, say, the sordid public behavior the nation has witnessed in recent months among Washington politicians on all sides.

‘A chief goal of our communications,’ one chipper guideline passage states, ‘is to present a positive, forward-looking narrative.”

And all these years we’ve been thinking of 9/11 as something sad.


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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos, from top: The new World Trade Center tower rises on Manhattan’s ground zero (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press); Obama boards Marine One at the White House (Mark Wilson / Getty Images).