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The selective amnesia of 9/11 by the Right

January 8, 2010

Denial is not a river in Egypt and revision of history does not alter the facts

The Right has thrown many silly and misleading jibes about Barack Obama over the past few weeks, since the failed Christmas Day air attack.

They have tried calling him up on the fact that it took him 72 hours to respond himself in a press conference while conveniently forgetting that Bush took six days to respond after Richard Reid’s failed “shoe bomb” attack in 2001.

They have tried calling him up on Janet Napolitano, who after the attack spoke of “the system working” “(although quite evidently it didn’t), even though George W. Bush, John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge ALL spoke of the success in apprehending Richard Reid who managed to get through American security in very similar ways to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and was only apprehended after a member of the public disarmed him, and it turned out intelligence agencies had been aware that Reid was preparing for an attack.

They have tried to claim that Barack Obama is somehow soft on terrorism, that he is downplaying that the country is at war with a real enemy and mostly berate him on not using the word “terrorism” – even though during his Inaugural Speech, his acceptance for the Nobel Peace Prize and in recent days addressing the US regarding the failed attack, he has been very clear and concise, spoken of the enemy that America faces and of the ongoing war.

All of these are instances of the Right trying to rewrite history, to divide the nation and undermine the office of the President of the United States, even though as Judge H. Lee Sarokin, wrote in the Huffington Post:

When the Bush administration was being criticized over the war in Iraq, its wiretapping policies, and the rendition and torture, its critics were dubbed (particularly by Cheney) as “unpatriotic.” He suggested they were “hurting the morale of the troops and being unsupportive,” “aiding and encouraging our enemies,” “endangering and deterring our intelligence agents” and just plain being “un-American.” Somehow none of the Cheney’s words seem to apply now. The former Veep has no hesitation in criticizing President Obama and suggesting that his policies are making us less safe.

However the worst of these allegations comes when the Right tries to suggest that under their watch, under the watch of President George W. Bush, as Rudy Giuliani so eloquently puts it:

“We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama”

This is the man that Talking Points Memo dubbed in their own story today on this: “Mr 9/11”, a man that Joe Biden called out in 2007 as being:

“Rudy Giuliani. There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun, a verb, and 9/11. There’s nothing else!”

Rudy was MAYOR for goodness sake during the 9/11 attacks. He was the face most people turned to as a strength especially when President Bush was being flown here, there and everywhere else, following the attack. Rudy then spent the next few years, including during his own Presidential bid, campaigning on the back of 9/11 to “show” people strength. Time Magazine crowned him “Time Person Of the Year” in 2001 and New York Times described him as forging “a lasting image”.

Political leadership is an uncertain alchemy, an admixture of the symbolic and substantive and the visceral. In times of consuming trauma, psychologists and historians say, a leader must speak with a trusted voice and sketch honestly the painful steps to safety. A leader must weave a narrative of shared loss while acknowledging consuming anger.

All this Mr. Giuliani accomplished, mourning the dead, comforting the grieving and cheering the living even as the police and the National Guard moved in. His critics have lambasted the rescue failures at ground zero and argued that his inattention before 9/11 cost lives.

But his performance shone brighter for the implicit comparison with President George W. Bush, who initially appeared — fairly or not — frozen in his chair, listening to second graders read as a nation came under attack.

Yet here he sat on ABC News and dared to say that: “We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama”.

The most disturbing aspect of this though, is Giuliani is not the first Republican to say this.

Let me take you back a couple of months.

In November Dana Perino, former Bush Press Secretary, hired by Obama (please stop shooting yourself in the foot) as the bi partisan member of his Broadcasting Board of Governors, told Sean Hannity:

“We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term. I hope they’re not looking at this politically. I do think that we owe it to the American people to call it what it is.”

This was after the horrifying Fort Hood shooting to which the Right accused Obama of “downplaying” the tragedy by “refusing to describe the massacre at Fort Hood as a terrorist attack”. And of course accusing him of making political moves on the event, even though, as with the recent Detroit attack, it has been the Right filling every available airwave and campaigning for dollars.

Here’s the video for anyone able to stomach it:

And yet this is not the only time.

GOP strategist Mary Matalin, repeated this new mantra on CNN just days after the Detroit attempt.

“We inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history,”

Doesn’t it make you mad that the Right are not only trying to twist the way Obama has handled the Detroit attempt, claimed ownership for responsibility, and brought in measures to try and stop another attempt, but also are not trying to rewrite one of the most horrific crimes, not only to happen on American soil but in the whole world?

By the way for the history re-writers, a little history REALITY!

Oh for anyone wondering if Giuliani has form on this kind of revision of history, sorry to say, yes he does. “To Justify Hypocritical Attacks, Rudy Giuliani Claims The Shoe Bomber’s Attempted Attack Happened Before 9/11” (Think Progress)

Last month, conservatives attempted to politicize the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas day by complaining that President Obama waited three days before publicly addressing it. “The President waits 72 hours before we hear from him, and it’s over 72 hours from the time of the incident to the time that the President spoke today,” said Karl Rove on Dec. 28, not noting that his old boss waited six days before commenting on the 2001 attempted shoe bombing.

But conservatives are now claiming that he waited 10 days to respond. On CNN’s Larry King Live last night, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani claimed that Obama responded10 days too late“:

GIULIANI: I think the president has to make a major correction in the way he is dealing with terrorism because I think he has mishandled the situation. First of all, it was 10 days too late. This is something you react to immediately, not 10 days later after your vacation. The president of the United States, when there is a potential massive attack on this country, which is what this guy was going to do, should have been on top of this immediately, not 10 days later, 11 days later, 12 days later.

When King pointed out that “President Bush took six days once in a similar incident,” Giuliani responded that “six days is less than 10″ and that he believed “that six days was before the September 11th attack.” King then clarified that “Bush waited six days on the shoe bomber,” to which Giuliani responded, “that’s correct.”

It should be noted, today Giuliani was not called up on his remarks or corrected, and neither were Mary Matalin and Dana Perino.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2010 1:25 am

    At this point, it is clear that the stating “no domestic terrorist attacks under Bush” thing is a tactic using the whole ‘if you say it enough times it becomes true’ philosophy. This is similar to the tactic they used to associated 9/11 with Iraq, though a bit more blatant this time.

    • January 11, 2010 11:47 am

      Very much agreed. And sadly there seems to be a free pass given by many in the press – these people are never called up on their words at the time but after the fact and the “wait a minute” voices always come from more independant media before the mainstream pick up on it too.

  2. January 9, 2010 1:15 pm

    Oooo an update. Seems Giulliani is trying to spin his way out of this:

    There’s a lot of chatter out there about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s appearance on Good Morning America where he told George Stephanopoulos “we had no domestic attacks under Bush — we’ve had one under Obama.”

    Obviously this ignores a certain horrible event on September 11, 2001.

    This did not escape the White House’s notice.

    “There were a number of things that didn’t quite seem to jive with the better part of reality,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said at Friday’s briefing. “I think he mentioned there not being any domestic terror attacks in the previous administration… It’s interesting that the mayor of New York had forgotten that.”

    A spokesman for the former Mayor clarifies, saying that the remark “didn’t come across as it was intended” and that he was “clearly talking post-9/11 with regards to Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil.”

    By “on our soil,” the former mayor is not including either Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab’s failed Christmas Day attack or Richard Reid’s December 22, 2001 attempt to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.

    So the spokesman says that the “one” attack that Giuliani says took place during the Obama administration was a reference to the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan.

    Some might argue, however, that even with this quite significant clarification, Giuliani is ignoring some other acts of terrorism:

    • Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, an Egyptian national who on July 4, 2002 shot and killed two Israelis and wounded four others at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport. The FBI would later say Hadayet was motivated by opposition to Israel and US policy in the Middle East and the shootings fit the definition of terrorism.

    • The 2001 anthrax attacks, which killed five people;

    • DC sniper John Allen Muhammed, who killed at least 10 people in 2002 and was convicted by a Virginia court of terrorism, among other charges.

    It’s worth noting, however, that neither the anthrax killer nor the DC sniper were firmly established as having been motivated by extremist Muslim ideology.


    UPDATE: The Giuliani spokesperson says the former Mayor does not consider the events with Hadayet, Muhammed, or the anthrax attacks Islamist terrorist attacks since “he was referring to what are known islamic terrorist attacks.”

    My view – suuuuuuuuuuuuuure Rudy, you keep telling yourself that one and I’ll keep pointing out “YOU LIE”

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