There’s no way to rationalize that directive into something that is not ridiculous. Apparently, some of the official thinking is that it would reflect that al-Qaeda is becoming “increasingly irrelevant,” an assertion open for debate as al-Qaeda continues to be a bone of contention with Pakistan, and activities continue and even escalate among al-Qaeda affiliates in north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Philippines.
But suspicion also falls to a twin agenda of political correctness and avoidance of ideology. The administration seems eager to follow the line of Islamic interest groups that mentioning Islam and terrorism in any proximity to each other is tantamount to incitement to “backlash.” And to emphasize al-Qaeda too much carries the risk of letting ideology into the discussion, and therefore, some discussion of jihad. Can’t have that.
On one hand, ten years seems quite early for historical revisionism. We were all watching that day. We remember. We know a changing of the story when we see it. On the other hand, the revisionist mill was already churning that very day. “Marking 9/11: Obama Aides Defend “˜Talking Points”,” from Fox9, August 31:
Top spokesmen for the Obama administration on Tuesday defended the White House’s issuance of “talking points” designed to shape how federal officials in this country and American diplomats serving abroad frame the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The guidelines, which were first reported by The New York Times, encompassed two sets of instructions: one drawn up chiefly for domestic consumption, the other geared primarily toward foreign audiences and disseminated to U.S. Embassy officers throughout the world.
“This is not unusual,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, adding that the Bush administration had issued press guidance for federal officials on the occasions of the second and fifth anniversaries of Sept. 11 — which Nuland repeatedly referred to in her briefing from the State Department podium as “nine-one-one.”
Nuland said the advisory to overseas ambassadors and their consular staff was motivated “primarily to ensure that embassies are marking the event, that they are having joint events in their host country to stand together against terrorism, and ensure that the day is marked appropriately internationally.”
Still, the documents, as reported in the TimesÂ¸ contained some unusual elements.
One set of guidelines urged U.S. officials to “minimize references to Al-Qaeda.” The documents cited the killing of Usama bin Laden as evidence that the terror network that plotted and executed the Sept. 11 attacks is becoming “increasingly irrelevant.”
Did we seek to minimize references to the Nazis as we closed in on Berlin?
Another talking point instructed American officials overseas to seek to universalize the commemorative day by noting: “We honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation”¦whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.”
How about Tel Aviv? Well, it would upset the cute alliteration, for starters.
The same document reminded readers: “A chief goal of our communications is to present a positive, forward-looking narrative.”
“I think the fact that you would actually instruct government officials to speak differently about 9/11 simply based on where they’re standing is not just insulting to American audiences and foreign audiences, but again, I think it’s a little bit of a window into how they look at national security issues,” said Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, a former press aide to Vice President Cheney and director of public affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency.
“This is a government that is not entirely comfortable with the role that it has to play in some cases to keep America safe“¦.[Not] to talk about how this government plans to keep us safe in the wake of the current threats that we face, I think, is really a missed opportunity.”…