Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My Vision For the WTC Memorial

My vision for the WTC memorial would be to discuss the disastrous attacks in the context of the history that brought them about. Here's an idea of what it would look like:

We would begin with the end of the Cold War, and the rise of al Qaida. George H. W. Bush loses the election in 1992, and Bill Clinton is elected. And then we have the first WTC bombing. Bill Clinton threatens action, but nothing ultimately takes place. In 1996 the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia brought more threats from Clinton, but nobody ended up paying for it. The terrorists at that point perceived, quite correctly, that no consequences would fall from their attacks. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, now a disgraced document pilferer, ignored real intelligence brought to him by FBI Director Louis Freeh regarding the genesis of this attack, leading Freeh to believe that Berger had no intention of doing his job, but was content to willingly ignore the problem.

Then in 1998, al Qaida staged simultaneous attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. There would be photos of the rubble, etc. More threats, no action from Clinton. But, amid a very embarrassing personal scandal that threatened to topple his presidency, Clinton launched cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan, "destroying" an abandoned terrorist training camp in the former, and an aspirin factory in the latter. Far from being worthless, these attacks were probably significantly provocative to the terrorists, not because they were a military response, but because they bore no result, proved to be an embarrassment to the Clinton Administration, and confirmed the terrorists' belief that the United States was not serious about combating them. There would be figures about how much it cost to pay for the repair of the aspirin factory, etc.

We would have a section about the Clinton Justice Department, where Jamie Gorelick put in place a firewall between CIA and the FBI, preventing the exchange of information, and thereby eliminating the possibility of effectively interdicting terrorist operations.

Then we would move on to the October 2000 strike on the U.S.S. Cole, a brazen attack that nearly sunk the vessel. The faces of the dead sailors, the photos of the boat with the gaping hole in its hull, etc. There would be the text of Bill Clinton's threats of retribution, but the acknowledgement that, for an outgoing Clinton Administration, there was no interest in making any trouble about it. After all, it would be someone else's problem in three months.

We would then show steps that the new Bush Administration took to deal with what they perceived to be a very real terrorist threat during the spring and summer of 2001.

And then, we would get to the business of the day. The flights, the buildings, the crashes, the flames, the horror of people jumping to their deaths, the heroism of the police and firefighters, and the doom of the buildings giving up their structures. The death. The uncertainty. The cursed confusion and inexcusable violation. Why? What next?

Then we would turn to the cops, to the firefighters, to the mayor who showed greatness by how he rose to the moment. To the survivors, and how they have revocered and moved on--and how some have not.

And then we would discuss the no-nonsense approach of the Bush Administration. Putting terrorists on the run, liberating two terrorist-supporting nations, and extirpating al Qaida. Capturing or killing the vast majority of their leadership and interdicting them at home.

A little tilted you say? Don't care to see such an embarrassingly biased (yet true) account at a memorial that should be reserved to the events occurring within the block of the World Trade Center?

Guess what? My version is actually more historically justifiable than what the "Freedom Center" is trying to do. And I would find such a partisan display as I described herein, while truthful, to be in the poorest of taste, regardless of whatever faux justifications I could offer for it.

And as a caller on Bill Bennett's morning in America said today during a discussion about the "Freedom Center", it would be much like going to the Reagan library, and expecting to see the "Carter Room".

The struggle for freedom across the globe is an important thing. It's fine to make a museum about that stuff. But we don't want it as an add on--let alone a monopolizing influence--at a memorial that should feature the tragedy, the people, and the ultimate restoration and victory all taking place in that one block in New York City.

Spare us the political education.

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