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Entries in September 11 (18)

Tuesday
Sep112012

Obama: After 9/11, America 'Even Stronger'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Eleven years after the 9/11 attacks, President Obama says the country has emerged stronger, safer and more resilient.

“As painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson: that no single event can ever destroy who we are, no act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for,” the president said Tuesday at a memorial ceremony at the Pentagon.  “Instead, we recommit ourselves to the values that we believe in, holding firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.”

Recalling a day “that began like so many others,” Obama said, “It is easy for those of us who lived through that day to close our eyes and to find ourselves back there and back here, back when grief crashed over us like an awful wave, when Americans everywhere held each other tight, seeking the reassurance that the world we knew wasn’t crumbling under our feet.”

Since the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, the president said America has “dealt a crippling blow to the organization that brought evil to our shores.”

“Al Qaeda’s leadership has been devastated, and Osama bin Laden will never threaten us again,” said Obama, who also cited the end of the Iraq war and the transition in Afghanistan.

The president assured the victims’ families that “no matter how many years passed, no matter how many times we come together on this hallowed ground, know this, that you will never be alone.”

“Your loved ones will never be forgotten.  They will endure in the hearts of our nation because through their sacrifice, they helped us make the America we are today, an America that has emerged even stronger,” he said.

After his remarks, the president and first lady spent close to an hour greeting the families of those who lost their lives in the attacks.

On their way back to the White House, Mr. and Mrs. Obama stopped at Arlington National Cemetery, where they visited the graves of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Obama, Chris Christie to Tour World Trade Center Together

Pete Souza/The White House/Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might be at the top of most veepstakes lists, but it won’t be Mitt Romney with whom he’s appearing on Thursday.  Instead, he will tour One World Trade Center Thursday afternoon with Romney’s rival, President Obama.

It might be quite an awkward meeting.  The tough-talking Republican governor last week railed against Obama at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago.  Christie hit Obama for his comments on Friday that the “private sector is doing fine” and it’s local government hiring that’s slowing the economy.  The president later clarified his comments, explaining the economy is “not doing fine.”

In front of a cheering crowd, Christie said the statements show “the core difference between who we are and what he represents for America.”

“I remind my staff of this every day, and I want to remind you all today, the most powerful thing on our side is this: We’re right and they’re wrong,” Christie said.  “So let’s not make it any more complicated.”

Obama and Christie toured flood-ravaged parts of New Jersey together in September and if Christie, who has topped his personal favorability ratings in his state, is picked to be Romney’s running mate, Thursday’s video of their meeting will definitely be broadcast over and over again.

The attacks of Sept. 11 do transcend politics, but all eyes will be on how the two interact in this heated partisan atmosphere.  Christie does have a history of working with Democrats, at times.  He’s fighting with his Democratic state legislature right now, but he has a good relationship with Newark Mayor Democrat Cory Booker, as well as his state’s Senate president, also a Democrat. Christie and Booker filmed a spoof video together last month making fun of the possibility that Christie would join Romney’s ticket.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will also be on hand for the tour on Thursday.  Booker will actually be with the president Thursday evening for a fundraiser at the Plaza Hotel.

Obama will also be fundraising at the home of Sarah Jessica Parker Thursday evening.  This event was highly publicized and involved a sweepstakes for low-dollar donors to win a ticket to the pricey event.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Ron Paul Booed over 9/11 Remarks during GOP Debate

Win McNamee/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was booed at Monday night’s CNN/Tea Party debate while explaining his view on why America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

During the debate, the Texas Congressman was asked if he planned to decrease defense spending to balance the budget.

Paul agreed that there is waste to cut, specifically dealing with outdated technology.  However, he said that a lot more money could be saved if America embraced a policy of non-intervention.  He added that the United States is in 130 countries and has 900 bases around the world, and added that “we’re broke.”

Paul then went a step forward, criticizing America’s global presence, especially in the Middle East, as being a catalyst for terrorism.

“We have to be honest with ourselves.  What would we do if another country, say, China, did to us what we do to all those countries over there?” Paul asked.

His view of foreign non-intervention received applause from the audience.  It was also the subject of his latest Texas Straight Talk column marking the anniversary of 9/11.  In it, Paul argues that foreign occupation is the “real motivation behind the September 11 attacks and the vast majority of other instances of suicide terrorism.”

Fellow GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum challenged Paul to explain that article, which he said blames America for 9/11.  However, when Paul began to cite U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia and America’s policy on Palestine as being the causes of the attacks, the audience booed him.  Undaunted, Paul continued to explain his view of why the attacks occurred.

At the end, Paul said, “Would you be annoyed?  If you’re not annoyed, then there’s some problem.”

Opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more generally to U.S. military activity abroad, has been a cornerstone of Paul’s candidacy and sets him apart from the rest of the Republican field.

Paul has a long record of voting against international intervention.  He voted against both Iraq wars.  He voted against the war in Kosovo and the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 which he called a “declaration of virtual war.”  Although he did vote for the use of force and emergency appropriations in Afghanistan after 9/11, he now says he regrets the votes and says the money was misused.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

McCain Admits Americans Won't Allow Another Middle East War

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Americans suffering from war fatigue won't permit more U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, according to Sen. John McCain.

The Arizona Republican told Fox News Sunday that he still supports the decisions made by the previous Bush administration to invade Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks and remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power.

However, McCain admitted, "I also think we learned a lot of lessons, and frankly, I don't think you're going to see the United States of America in another war in that part of the world."

"I don't think American public opinion would stand for it," the 2008 GOP presidential nominee conceded.

McCain believes that the U.S. had no choice but to go after al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan when America was attacked 10 years ago.

Yet, "whether it's mismanaged and whether we underestimated the enormity of the challenge we faced, I think historians will judge," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep112011

Obama: Country Is Safer than It Was 10 Years Ago

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Reflecting on the 9/11 anniversary, President Obama told NBC News Sunday morning that there is no doubt the United States is safer now that it was 10 years ago.

The president said this is a consequence of more effective homeland security and the U.S. taking the fight to al Qaeda.

Obama warned that Americans must remain vigilant because there are still people who want to attack the U.S.  He also discussed the specific and credible -- but unconfirmed -- terror threat surrounding the 9/11 anniversary, saying this particular threat was so specific that he felt it necessary to inform state and local partners to prepare.

On Saturday, the president visited the graves of U.S. service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  NBC’s Brian Williams asked the president what he took away from the trip.

“It’s a reminder that our way of life is dependent on the incredible courage, the incredible patriotism of a whole host of people,” Obama said.

Obama added that he was struck by how young all the fallen heroes were.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep112011

President Obama Honors 9/11 Victims at WTC Site

David Handschuh-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama and his wife Michelle Obama paid respect to 9/11 victims Sunday by visiting the North Memorial Pool in the footprint of the spot where the north tower of the World Trade Center stood on this 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack.

The two observed a moment of silence commemorating the exact minute the first airplane crashed into the north tower, after which President Obama read a passage from Psalm 46.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” the scripture says.

The Obamas were joined by former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush.  The two couples walked along the edge of the pool and observed the names of the victims of 9/11 and the 1993 WTC bombing inscribed around the pools.  The couples then greeted some families of the 9/11 victims.

Presidents Obama and Bush also exchanged pleasantries with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New York Gov. George Pataki, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other dignities on hand at the memorial.

This was President Obama’s second trip to the memorial site after first visiting back in May.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep112011

How 9/11 Led to President Obama

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ten years ago Sunday, a little known Illinois state Senator was driving his car down Lake Shore Drive on his way to a legislative hearing at the James R. Thompson Center, the state building in the middle of Chicago’s Loop.  He turned the dial on his radio and heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Like many Americans, Sen. Barack Obama assumed it had been a small plane with mechanical difficulties.  By the time he got to the hearing, however, a second plane had crashed into the other tower.  It had become clear that the crashes had been intentional and that there would likely be thousands of casualties.

Thompson Center was evacuated, and Chicagoans -- including Sen. Obama -- were fearful that Chicago’s Sears Tower might be next.  He went to the law offices of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, where he was of counsel, and with his fellow attorneys, watched the twin towers fall.

That night, Barack Obama held his daughter Sasha, who had turned 3 months old the day before.  He had night duty so his wife Michelle could get some sleep.  As he stayed up late tending to Sasha’s needs, he wondered what kind of world she would be inheriting.

Sasha Obama is now 10, and in her short life her father has gone from obscurity to leader of the free world.  On issues ranging from the War Powers Act to the indefinite detention of accused terrorists, the former constitutional law lecturer has certainly showed a certain willingness to get beyond the theoretical and make decisions his advisers call “practical.”  In this, the responsibility of the presidency is what may have changed him, not 9/11.

The attacks, according to sources close to the president, hastened his political career, causing him to feel a stronger sense of urgency that he needed to emerge on the national stage.  That’s because the issues brought to the forefront of the political debate -- the importance of national unity, the wisdom of going to war in Iraq, the balance between liberty and security -- are ones that the then-University of Chicago constitutional law lecturer found so compelling.

In short, 9/11 in many ways compelled Barack Obama to become a national leader.

Though his political career had suffered a humiliating setback the year before when incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., crushed him in the Democratic primary, Barack Obama within months of the terrorist attacks began sounding out themes for the post-9/11 world that ultimately led to him to become the 44th president of the United States.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep102011

Obama Heralds ‘Resilient Nation’ on Sept. 11 Anniversary Eve

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama intends to keep a low profile through much of Sunday’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. No major speeches. No presidential pageantry or fanfare when he visits the three attack sites. He’ll speak only for 15 minutes at a concert and interfaith prayer service at night, aides say.

Still, Obama has sought to put his imprint on the anniversary ahead of time, using his weekly address to remember the fallen, those who have served selflessly in their memory, and the lessons their example provides for America’s future.

“A decade after 9/11, it’s clear for all the world to see: The terrorists who attacked us that September morning are no match for the character of our people, the resilience of our nation or the endurance of our values,” Obama said.

“They wanted to terrorize us but, as Americans, we refuse to live in fear. Yes we face a determined foe, and make no mistake, they will keep trying to hit us again,” he said, alluding to the latest threat of a possible terror plot connected to the anniversary.

“But as we are showing again this weekend, we remain vigilant. We’re doing everything in our power to protect our people. And no matter what comes our way, as a resilient nation, we will carry on.”

Obama cited the draw-downs of U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as signs of “confidence as a nation.” He invoked the determination of the American people to “not succumb to division or suspicion” as evidence they have rejected paralysis by terror. And he signaled that greater U.S. involvement in international partnerships and support for the Arab Spring were indications “America doesn’t hunker down and hide behind walls of mistrust.”

“Ten years ago, ordinary Americans showed us the true meaning of courage when they rushed up those stairwells, into those flames, into that cockpit,” Obama said. “In the decade since, a new generation has stepped forward to serve and keep us safe. In their memory, in their name, we will never waver.”

The president and first lady will participate in a service project in Washington Saturday, the White House said. On Sunday, they will travel to Ground Zero in New York City where they will attend a commemoration ceremony. Later, they travel to Shanksville, Pa., and then back to Washington, D.C., and the Pentagon where they will lay wreaths and meet privately with victims’ families.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep102011

Obama Family Makes Meal for the Needy

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and his family took part in a service project at D.C. Central Kitchen Saturday afternoon to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.

The president and his daughter, Malia, packed rice and gumbo while first lady Michelle Obama and daughter, Sasha, prepped corn for a meal that will be distributed to those in need. The first family made chicken sausage gumbo meals that will go to organizations such as D.C. Public Schools, Covenant House Washington, and New Endeavors by Women.

D.C. Central Kitchen prepares and delivers over 5,000 meals every day.

Some of the staff at D.C. Central Kitchen are part of the Culinary Jobs Training Program, which provides formerly incarcerated, addicted and homeless men and women with hospitality jobs.

On this 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the homeland, President Obama has called for unity and for Americans to take part in a service activity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep102011

The Politics of September 11th: From Agreement to Discord

Thomas E. Franklin/The Record(NEW YORK) -- Ten years ago, in the days, weeks and months after Sept. 11, 2001, the country and government came together. Democrats and Republicans worked together to ease a scared nation, but also out of fear that not doing so would have them labeled unpatriotic. Bipartisan approval for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reigned. You rarely heard the word "deficit," and money was poured into not only those wars, but to build the Department of Homeland Security.

Now, the government is bitterly divided. What happened?

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, took to the Senate floor Thursday to call for a return to the bipartisanship and cooperation after Sept. 11.

"What we were able to achieve then in terms of common purpose and effective collective action provides us with a model for action that we in Washington must strive to emulate and even if just in part, even if just sporadically to re-create," Schumer said.

On issues like the $20 billion aid package to New York, the controversial Patriot Act, or approval for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, both sides of the aisle gave a green light.

"To his credit, President Bush did not for one second think about the electoral map or political implication of supporting New York. He asked what we needed and he came through," Schumer said. "If, God forbid, another 9/11-like attack were to happen tomorrow, would our national political system respond with the same unity, non-recrimination, common purpose and effective policy action in the way that it did just ten years ago? Or are our politics now so petty, fanatically ideological, polarized and partisan that we would instead descend into blame and brinkmanship, and direct our fire inward, and fail to muster the collective will to act in the interests of the American people?"

In what she calls a "backhanded compliment to bipartisanship," Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute says the American public has given high marks to both George W. Bush and Barack Obama on the topic of terrorism.

"What's absolutely clear is in a time so critical of Washington, the public has given high marks to the presidents of both parties—George W. Bush for making the country safe and they gave Barack Obama high marks for keeping the country safe," Bowman said, who recently authored a study "The War on Terror: Ten Years of Polls on American Attitudes".

With the economy being the number one issue on Americans' minds, Bowman says terrorism has receded significantly as an area of concern.

"I think terrorism wouldn't recede as an issue if they didn't feel the government made them safe," Bowman said.

But what about the dynamic between the president and Congress?

James Lindsay, senior vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations, worked at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. He says the attacks of Sept. 11 "triggered a dynamic as old as the American Republic."

"When the country is under attack and facing a national crisis, power gravitates away from Congress to the president, partly because Americans believe that during times of crisis strong leadership is needed," Lindsay told ABC News. "Also, during times of crisis it's politically safe to rally behind the president. They fear any critique of the White House is taken as an unpatriotic act. That rally around the flag gives enormous power to the president and that power persists as long as the crisis persists."

"As the country returns to more normal times, or if the public is concerned with the failure of the president's policies, power drifts back to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. It's a shifting pendulum of power," said Lindsay, adding that as Americans' concerns have shifted from terrorism to the economy "in a decade we've gone from the age of terror to the age of austerity."

And this age of austerity is seeing some of the more conservative members of Congress question a department they originally supported.

Formed in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security merged 22 federal agencies—among them the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

DHS is now one of the federal government's largest, with an annual budget more than $50 billion and the department employs over 200,000 people.

Although its size was questioned from day one, people asked how it could possibly be efficient. Republicans now feel more free to object its size, especially since it's now under a Democratic administration.

The Government Accountability Office released a report last week assessing DHS. At a Senate committee hearing Wednesday GAO Comptroller Eugene Dodaro praised the department, but added there are still "gaps and weaknesses" that DHS needs to address.

"Has it worked? Has it made us safer as a nation?," asked Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Collins also criticized the "intrusive" screenings that some elderly and young passengers have to endure and expressed concern that people who present a threat to the country get through.

Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of DHS, lectures at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and is the national security and foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She said DHS has changed for the better over the past ten years in terms of prioritizing and interacting with the public and Congress. She points to the example of the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, in May 2010. While the bomber was called inept and inefficient, Kayyem says it was DHS and other agencies like FBI and local responders that prevented a tragedy.

"The Times Square bomber spent very little time training in Pakistan because he was concerned by the length of time spent in the country being scrutinized by immigration officials. He didn't buy more fertilizer and explosive materials because there is monitoring of large purchases of fertilizer. And the 'See Something, Say Something' campaign caused a bystander to realize something was happening," Kayyem said.

Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council of Foreign Relations, added, "I think it takes a fairly brave lawmaker to publicly advocate spending less on counterterrorism. The easy way to go is to blame the expenditures as inefficient or wasting money. The tougher argument is to say, no, we're just doing too much. It exposes political risk if there is a successful attack."

In the weeks following 9/11, Americans were for the most part united that justice against an invisible enemy with no country or uniform needed to be served. Both Democrats and Republicans voted overwhelmingly for intervention to crush Al Qaeda and paralyze and dismantle the terrorist network that wanted to destroy Americans.

Within a few years, Afghanistan was largely forgotten and support for the Iraq war, which always had less unanimous support than Afghanistan publicly but began with widespread bipartisan congressional support, dwindled after it was discovered that Iraq had not been harboring weapons of mass destruction under Saddam Hussein and that there was not a link between Hussein and al Qaeda.

During the election of 2008, says Biddle, when candidate Barack Obama promised to focus on Afghanistan, not Iraq, "people re-discovered the war after seven years" and "people didn't like what they saw.

"When Afghanistan became Obama's war and the Democratic Party owned it, which took place when the president put in place a substantial series of initiatives in waging the war which had not been the policy of George W. Bush, then a lot of Republican started to verbalize they were uncomfortable with the war," he continued. "Republican support for the war in Afghanistan has been very soft since Obama's election."

While many Republicans remain committed to both Afghanistan and steadfast that there not be more cuts to defense spending, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., recently threatened to quit the special deficit super committee if there were more cuts to defense. Biddle explained that those who weren't deeply committed had privately complained that Afghanistan was a "fool's errand." Eventually those private complaints became public. Now several freshman House members openly express concern about continued engagement in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, on both side of the aisle, congressional leaders are echoing Schumer in calling for unity.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, also called on congress to remember the unity of those days. "There were not Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, red states or blue states. We were Americans," Reid said. "We need the bipartisanship of Washington."

In a video message, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, marked the tenth anniversary by praising the troops and encouraging congress to come together as they did after the attacks.

"Let's try to recapture that spirit of 9/11 to work together to solve the hard problems that face us: a mountain of debt, high unemployment, and the threats we face from radical Islam," said Graham. "There is nothing we can't accomplish if we work together."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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