Honor 9/11, but don’t forget Iraq war woes

Freedom New Mexico

Just seven years ago, unmitigated evil visited our shores. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, remain vivid in most Americans’ memories and our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan — as well as the increase in security cameras and airports’ growing collections of confiscated nail clippers — are continuing reminders that our way of life has been changed in ways both meaningful and trivial.

In the years since four commercial airliners were turned into weapons of mass destruction, we have not experienced another such attack — and we dutifully acknowledge that we have remained safe under President Bush’s watch.

On Sept. 15, 2001, Bush said: “We will find those who did it. We will smoke them out of their holes. We’ll get them running, and we’ll bring them to justice.” He followed that up on Sept. 20, 2001, with, “We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.”

On this final Sept. 11 of Bush’s tenure, where do we stand on those vows?

Osama bin Laden, the accused mastermind of the attacks, remains unaccounted for; on Monday, an analysis report from Agence France-Presse noted that “(seven years) after the Sept. 11 attacks sent the U.S. president’s popularity soaring to record highs as the U.S. public rallied behind its wartime leader, they languish at record lows, with bin Laden still on the run.”

The “surge” has indeed helped quell violence in Iraq and generally is regarded as a success, and Bush’s announcement this week that 8,000 troops will be brought home soon can only be seen as a positive development. But Iraq’s future and America’s role in it remains uncertain — and indeed is a centerpiece issue in the current presidential race.

With bin Laden’s network believed to be based in Afghanistan, we have maintained a military presence there but its role is treated secondarily to the efforts in Iraq. Indeed, Barack Obama has vowed to shift our focus to Afghanistan, should he win the White House.

And then there is the litany of intrusions on Americans’ privacy and personal liberty invoked by the Bush administration, all in the name of “winning the war on terror.”

Radical Islamic terrorists struck at the heart of the United States with their attacks seven years ago. Our vigilant efforts have kept us safe to date, and we pause today to honor those who fell that day and those who have fallen defending our founders’ ideals. But we will fail to honor their memory if we ever turn a blind eye to the insidious damage to those ideals from sometimes over-reaching laws and overzealous enforcement that followed in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.