The New York Times in its Izvestia-like role as mouthpiece for the White House, shares some of the guidelines that have been sent to government officials with directions on how they should talk about 9/11, as its tenth anniversary approaches. Goodness knows what any of them might say if they were not provided with clear instructions on how to speak and think.
The documents being reported on have been distributed to hundreds, perhaps thousands of officials. They are referred to as “internal documents” which leads me to doubt that they are even classified as confidential, yet the Times, prissy as ever, didn’t publish the documents — merely quoted from them liberally.
There are two sets of guidelines — one on how American officials should communicate with other Americans and the other on how to talk to everyone else.
[T]he guidelines aimed at foreign audiences … call on American officials to praise overseas partners and their citizens, who have joined the worldwide effort to combat violent extremism.
“As we commemorate the citizens of over 90 countries who perished in the 9/11 attacks, we honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation around the world,” the overseas guidelines state. “We honor and celebrate the resilience of individuals, families, and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.”
Bali or Belfast?
There was a much more obvious city beginning with “B” to couple with Bali.
After all, more innocent civilians have died in terrorist attacks in that city alone in the last decade than in every other location on the planet where attacks have occurred.
Of course the subject of terrorism in Iraq is awkward for Americans since the lines between terrorism and warfare so often became blurred on an American-made battlefield that quickly became a terrorist training ground.
The report notes:
Some senior administration officials involved in the discussions noted that the tone set on this Sept. 11 should be shaped by a recognition that the outpouring of worldwide support for the United States in the weeks after the attacks turned to anger at some American policies adopted in the name of fighting terror — on detention, on interrogation, and the decision to invade Iraq.
So what tangible form does that recognition take?
Everyone should maintain a polite silence about Iraq. Oh… and don’t mention al Qaeda either. With bin Laden dead, al Qaeda is totally passé.
Let’s focus on the future (“present a positive, forward-looking narrative”) while we remember the past.