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Candidates React: Remembering 9/11

Updated 10:58 a.m.
Sen. Barack Obama issued the following statement on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks:

"Today, we honor the memory of the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001, and grieve with the families and friends who lost someone they loved in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We will never forget those who died. We will always remember the extraordinary efforts of our firefighters, police and emergency responders, and those who sacrificed their own lives on Flight 93 to protect their fellow Americans. And we give thanks for the Americans defending us every day in our communities at home, and in our military abroad.

"On 9/11, Americans across our great country came together to stand with the families of the victims, to donate blood, to give to charity, and to say a prayer for our country. Let us renew that spirit of service and that sense of common purpose. Let us remember that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 are still at large, and must be brought to justice. Let us resolve to defeat terrorist networks, defend the American homeland, stand up for the enduring American values that we cherish, and seek a new birth of freedom at home and around the world."

Sen. John McCain delivered the following statement in Shanksville, Pa.:

"No American living then should ever forget the heroism that occurred in the skies above this field on September 11, 2001. It is believed that the terrorists on United Flight 93 may have intended to crash the airplane into the United States Capitol. Hundreds if not thousands of people would have been at work in that building when that fateful moment occurred, and been destroyed along with a beautiful symbol of our freedom. They, and very possibly I, owe our lives to the passengers who summoned the courage and love necessary to deny our depraved and hateful enemies their terrible triumph.

"I have witnessed great courage and sacrifice for America's sake, but none greater than the sacrifice of those good people who grasped the gravity of the moment, understood the threat, and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives.

"I spoke at the memorial service for one of them, Mark Bingham. I acknowledged that few of us could say we loved our country as well as he and all the heroes of September 11 had. The only means we possess to thank them is to try to be as good an American as they were. We might fall well short of their standard, but there is honor in the effort.

"In the Gospel of John it is written, 'Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.' Such was their love; a love so sublime that only God's love surpasses it. I am in awe of it as much as I am in debt to it. May God bless their souls."

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 11, 2008; 9:48 AM ET
Categories:  National Security , On the Issues , Primary Source  
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911 - Given the intelligence that existed with-in the various intelligence agency prior to 911, had that intelligence been properly valued and acted upon, America should have been able to have prevented the terrorist attack on 911. Knowing this, the only viable conclusion is; no new tools or agencies would have been needed to thwart that 911 attack, nor to prevent any similar 911 style attacks in the future, but merely, that our intelligence community, was incompetent.
Now, would it not be true, that before the 911 attack, a viable balance had been struck, between the protection of an individuals constitutionally protected rights, and the tools, available to the intelligence community, needed to protect America at home from foreign terrorist attacks, had been achieved.
It has been said, “a society, which surrenders personal freedoms, under the guise of security, deserves neither”. Now, make your case for the need of the patriot act.

Posted by: davidm2902 | September 12, 2008 4:13 AM | Report abuse

You partisans could kill a funeral!!
you cant even stop the vitriol for one day

Posted by: Stop | September 11, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

As an American who served in the Marines, I will take today off as far a politics go. Instead I will simply give an embrace to all of those who suffered on that horrible day.

I will also give an embrace to all those who sacrificed and gave of themselves on that day to help those in need.

We can get back to politics tomorrow, but today I simply can not and will not participate in that way.

Vance C. McDaniel
U.S.M.C HMM-268

Posted by: Vance C. McDaniel | September 11, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

It is truly sobering to realize the tragic consequences to America if Obama Lite is allowed into the Oval Office by misguided voters.

Posted by: JaxMax | September 11, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Military Words - Why Do We Use Them?

By Dr. Akiva ben Michael

Why are we using words associated with the military? I suppose this means that neither McCain or Obama will attack each other today. Attack - another military word... Our society is being invaded by words John McCain uses. Invaded - another military word. If we look around us our society is surrounded by military words. Surrounded - another military word. I feel like our entire language has been infiltrated by military words. Infiltrated - another military word. I fell like our language has been taken captive by the constant use of military words! Captive - another military word. How does one escape the use of military words in their conversations?? Escape - another military word. How does one free their self from using military words? I feel dirty! I feel like John McCain is all around me! Hawwwwwwwwwww!

How can I rid my self of this man? How can I free my mind of these taunting words? Taunting - another military word. John McCain is in every newspaper, magazine, e-mail, radio, T.V. I feel like America is under siege by John Warmonger McCain. Siege - another military word. Warmonger - another military word. McCain either begins or ends ever comment with his heroic past. What is becoming of us America?

Does this mean today on the anniversary of 9/11 we will cease from using military words? Good!!

For more information on John Warmonger McCain or Sarah 666 Palin visit: Used by permission of

Posted by: Dr. Akiva ben Michael | September 11, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Did anybody except for me notice that McCain left out the victims of 911. Instead he said the terrorist target may have been the Capitol(by the way where HE could have possibly been) McCain only thinks of himself even in this time where heroes are remembered as well as the victims and there family. Notice when it comes to McCain/Palin it is not really about you but about THEM.

Posted by: Upset in Georgia | September 11, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

For how long we will have to tolerate the politicians politicizing 911 (excuse my redundancy)?
Guliani did and it backfired.

Remembering the dead and the tragedy is one thing, trying to get votes out of it is a way of manipulating voters (undecided mostly 40%+).



--------CRITICAL THINKING-----------------



Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Wonder if it is true that the actual candidate that bumps off mutual opponent of both parties will win in November? Apparently the opponent exposed corruption within both parties and is specifically targeted.

The question is how... For example, will the GOP use a Guiliani-like mob ties such as his protege Bernard Kerik was indicted with 140 years of jail time? Will the Dems use an OJ Simpson-like convict with jail time instead? Will both parties use the popular law enforcement community practice of 'sweetheart exchange deals' where crimes/murders are committed in exchange for less penalty on their behalf?

And do we have to worry about our family's safety having shared this detail now? Will my husband be targeted and murdered during his daily jog after work in Hackensack and Bogota, NJ around 4pm today? Especially since all our habits and plans are known in advance due to bugging devices implanted both in public and private?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This is a day we should all never forget. What John McCain said was beautiful and what we all feel in our hearts. Well said John.

Posted by: Debra | September 11, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

John McCain's speech brought tears to my eyes. Obama's did not. Many of you seem to have a severe remembrance deficit. Listen Obama, we do NOT want to bring the terrorists responsible to justice, we want them dead. No lawyers, no repeals, no 20 years on death row and then another 10 in stays of execution. They need to die with a single bullet, dipped in pig's fat, to the back of the head.

Posted by: Adrian | September 11, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

im on ur side but its not ours and not theirs its all of ours and we have to do the right think and thats nocking out terrorism!!!!

Posted by: boruch yona loriner | September 11, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

REPUBLICANS FOR 100 MORE YEARS Sepetmber 11, 2001 is ours to remind voters ... and we win everytime. This is our TRADE MARK

Posted by: The Republic | September 11, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Thes are all verifiable facts and can be found just with a google searches.
are the military industrial complex

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Islamic fundamentalist come from small town Middle East and given the same kind of talking points as the evangelicals. They want prayer in school, no choice available to women, and believe to the core that their ideas about worship and country are the best. Wake up small town America you are being duped.Talking about who is more patriotic, symbols, lipstick and wearing pins are nothing more than distractions to the real issue of how a few select group of people have held power almost continuously for over 30 years. Yes the left has their own political power groups but none have been so effective at pushing forward an agenda that is fundamentally bad for the U.S. and in a larger view the entire world. I stress again the now defunct PNAC and the AIPAC have been slowly pushing us closer to another World War. Bush41 and et al have been doing this and no one calls them on it. Every Republican administration has basically the same people recycled since Nixon. Just do a little research and you will see that these people are just pushing this agenda of some kind of Pax Americana and not taking into account that maybe other nations of the world might not like that and if not bomb them.Many people who support the Republican party, really need to read "1984" by George Orwell and see how we as nation have been inching closer to that type of society. People think this story is about a communist society, but it is more about how a society is kept in a constant state of fear in order for the ruling class to stay in control. Doublespeak, patriotism to the point of frenzy, censorship, erosion of civil liberties (not respecting the Constitution) is happening right in front of us. The consolidation of government (the executive branch has never been more powerful than ever, gridlocked legislature with only two parties for representation, a judiciary that just kowtows to the executive branch). No real independent journalism. Cameras placed on every street corner. This may sound like delusional conspiracy stuff, but I implore people to research for themselves to really see what is happening to them. People think this could never happen here in the U.S. but all this has already happening, slowly, incrementally all under the guise of "keeping America safe"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Other than the ultra affluent, how can anyone support the Republican Party? When will small town America realize that they are being duped into supporting the ultra-affluent agenda? The talking points of the right are so hypocritical that it becomes laughable. The red meat of the right is the so called Main stream Media as if Limbaugh, Hannity, et al. are not part of it. They demean celebrity status, however they tout one of their greatest presidents(Reagan) was an actor. They say they are the party of patriotism, yet many of the upper echelon of the party have never served, i.e. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Baker, Reagan. They say that they care about "Main Street" USA but only bail out the Whales of Wall Street. Yet small town America eat this tripe every year. They don't care about religion unless it can be used to stir up the base, nor science or technology unless there is a buck to be made. Small town America takes pride on its freedom but yet don't realize that over time we are becoming less free, ie wire tapping and other forms of domestic surveillance. They demean people of intelligence because they know many people of small town America don't have degrees and use it at a fake issue and call people who spent time in academia as elitist when many on the right serve on university boards and have part-time professorships. They say they are against affirmitive action but yet celebrate mediocrity, Bush43 and McCain graduating at the bottom of their classes. Who both came from already well established families and had all the opportunities and connections to excel. Why does small town America believes this is the party for them? Christian conservatives seem to the be the first ones who want to go to war and bomb someone before any diplomacy is tried. Why can't small town America and Christian conservatives realize they are being used as pawns just as much the Islamic fundamentalist are.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Lets look at McCain’s staff of change.
On July 2, 2008, Steve Schmidt was given "full operational control" of McCain's campaign. Steve Schmidt prior to this was a top aide to Dick Cheney and a protégé to Karl Rove. Another advisor is Charles R. Black worked for Ronald Reagan's two Presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980 and he was a senior political adviser to the 1992 re-election campaign of George H.W. Bush. Another advisor is Randy Scheunemann. He was project director for the Project for the New American Century. A neo-conservative think tank founded by non other than Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Bill Kristol and others in 1996. Other signatories to this group reads like a who’s who of the last 8 years of the republican administration.
These people have never cared about small town america or “values” All they care about is war profiteering. Many of the signatories have never served in the military. Cheney and Rove both dodged the draft. Look at the statement of principles by the PNAC. Rumsfeld was a good friend of Saddam Huessin in the 80’s Cheney didn’t want Nelson Mandela free. These are the real puppet masters, they throw out the talking points about the left of being elitist and not caring about middle america and these same guys other than Rove have advanced degrees and are worth no less than 10 million dollars. People who support them need to extricate their heads out of Limbaugh and Hannity’s asses and see what is really happening to them. McCain is not his own man he confuses stories of his real life with a book he read “The Gulag Archipelago", in which a fellow prisoner - not a guard - silently drew a cross in the dirt with a stick.” An ironic twist to all this is Eliot A. Cohen, a signatory to the PNAC "Statement of Principles", responded in The Washington Post: "There is no evidence that generals as a class make wiser national security policymakers than civilians. George C. Marshall, our greatest soldier statesman after George Washington, opposed shipping arms to Britain in 1940. His boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, with nary a day in uniform, thought otherwise. Whose judgment looks better?"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

In recent weeks, John McCain and the Republican Party have blatantly and without any shame adopted the Democratic campaign theme of “change”. It should be evident to an objective observer that Bush 43 and now McCain and Pailin are mere puppets to the true Republican national party leaders who control their strings. Cheney is one of the few of that inner cabal that have been calling the shots since the Nixon administration. They are in fact a continuation of the Nixon and Ford presidencies with only a disruption during the Carter and Clinton years. Bush 41( Head of the RNC during Nixon, former head of the CIA,VP to Reagan, and president is probably the real leader of this political Cosa Nostra if not a equal partner of this power sharing musical chairs game. His right and left hands have been Dick Cheney(former Sec.of Defense of Bush 41, former White House Chief of staff for Ford) and the other is Donald Rumsfeld(former Sec. of Defense for Ford and Bush 43,former special envoy to the Middle East during Reagan). Another member of this group, more likely a captain if not a full blown boss himself is James Baker (former C.O.S of Reagan, former Under Sec. of Commerce for Ford, former C.O.S and Sec of State for Bush 41, former Sec. of Treasury for Reagan, former chief legal advisor to Bush 43). Another captain or free lance enforcer is Karl Rove a college drop out and campaign manager for both Bush 41 and 43, also for Phil Gram who is McCain’s economic advisor.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Off Base on Sex Ed
September 10, 2008
A McCain campaign ad claims Obama's "one accomplishment" was a bill to teach sex ed to kindergarten kids. Don't believe it, on several fronts.
A McCain-Palin campaign ad claims Obama's "one accomplishment" in the area of education was "legislation to teach 'comprehensive sex education' to kindergarteners." But the claim is simply false, and it dates back to Alan Keyes' failed race against Obama for an open Senate seat in 2004.

Obama, contrary to the ad's insinuation, does not support explicit sex education for kindergarteners. And the bill, which would have allowed only "age appropriate" material and a no-questions-asked opt-out policy for parents, was not his accomplishment to claim in any case, since he was not even a cosponsor – and the bill never left the state Senate.

In addition, the ad quotes unflattering assessments of the Illinois senator's record on education but leaves out sometimes equally harsh criticism directed at McCain in the same forums.

Note: This is a summary only. The full article with analysis, images and citations may be viewed on our Web site:

Posted by: Richard | September 11, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Biden wasn't in on the meetings where top Bush aids cooked the books, so he chose to trust President Bush over Saddam and authorize the war to protect the American people. Too bad Bush wasn't trustworthy and, as a result, killed more Americans with this deception than the total who had died on 9/11.
It is the nature of te devil to talk you into something, and then be your accuser after you've given in.

Posted by: Charles | September 11, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous, even today, you have the classiest post on the board, well representing your chosen one.

Posted by: Scott | September 11, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Brian | September 11, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Thank God we haven't been attacked since 9/11 2001... (unless you count covert operations against the constitution, working people, science, the environment, infrastructure maintenance, health care, human rights, individual liberties, Social Security, education, Keynesian economics......)

Posted by: Charles | September 11, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I hope the legacy of 9/11 is that it inspired a commitment to service among Americans. I think we can learn from the service histories of both presidential candidates.

Posted by: Kristen | September 11, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Question of the day is, are we safer today than we were before 9/11?

Obama says "no" and McCain says "yes." All who have worked in counter-terrorism seem to think we're not safer today, but all conservatives are convinced we are. What's going on here?

Posted by: b | September 11, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse


On this commemoration of 9/11/01, let us petition our government to get our own house in order:

"Government Agencies Support Domestic Torture and Gang-Stalking..."

Posted by: scrivener | September 11, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

YouTube - Obama's Stance on the War Changes with the Wind

Posted by: Vance | September 11, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse


WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain arrived late at his Senate office on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. “This is war,” he murmured to his aides. The sound of scrambling fighter planes rattled the windows, sending a tremor of panic through the room.

Erik Jacobs for The New York Times
John McCain said he had consulted Henry A. Kissinger on foreign policy before and after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Within hours, Mr. McCain, the Vietnam War hero and famed straight talker of the 2000 Republican primary, had taken on a new role: the leading advocate of taking the American retaliation against Al Qaeda far beyond Afghanistan. In a marathon of television and radio appearances, Mr. McCain recited a short list of other countries said to support terrorism, invariably including Iraq, Iran and Syria.

“There is a system out there or network, and that network is going to have to be attacked,” Mr. McCain said the next morning on ABC News. “It isn’t just Afghanistan,” he added, on MSNBC. “I don’t think if you got bin Laden tomorrow that the threat has disappeared,” he said on CBS, pointing toward other countries in the Middle East.

Within a month he made clear his priority. “Very obviously Iraq is the first country,” he declared on CNN. By Jan. 2, Mr. McCain was on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, yelling to a crowd of sailors and airmen: “Next up, Baghdad!”

Now, as Mr. McCain prepares to accept the Republican presidential nomination, his response to the attacks of Sept. 11 opens a window onto how he might approach the gravest responsibilities of a potential commander in chief. Like many, he immediately recalibrated his assessment of the unseen risks to America’s security. But he also began to suggest that he saw a new “opportunity” to deter other potential foes by punishing not only Al Qaeda but also Iraq.

“Just as Sept. 11 revolutionized our resolve to defeat our enemies, so has it brought into focus the opportunities we now have to secure and expand our freedom,” Mr. McCain told a NATO conference in Munich in early 2002, urging the Europeans to join what he portrayed as an all but certain assault on Saddam Hussein. “A better world is already emerging from the rubble.”

To his admirers, Mr. McCain’s tough response to Sept. 11 is at the heart of his appeal. They argue that he displayed the same decisiveness again last week in his swift calls to penalize Russia for its incursion into Georgia, in part by sending peacekeepers to police its border.

His critics charge that the emotion of Sept. 11 overwhelmed his former cool-eyed caution about deploying American troops without a clear national interest and a well-defined exit, turning him into a tool of the Bush administration in its push for a war to transform the region.

“He has the personality of a fighter pilot: when somebody stings you, you want to strike out,” said retired Gen. John H. Johns, a former friend and supporter of Mr. McCain who turned against him over the Iraq war. “Just like the American people, his reaction was: show me somebody to hit.”

Whether through ideology or instinct, though, Mr. McCain began making his case for invading Iraq to the public more than six months before the White House began to do the same. He drew on principles he learned growing up in a military family and on conclusions he formed as a prisoner in North Vietnam. He also returned to a conviction about “the common identity” of dangerous autocracies as far-flung as Serbia and North Korea that he had developed consulting with hawkish foreign policy thinkers to help sharpen the themes of his 2000 presidential campaign.

While pushing to take on Saddam Hussein, Mr. McCain also made arguments and statements that he may no longer wish to recall. He lauded the war planners he would later criticize, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Mr. McCain even volunteered that he would have given the same job to Mr. Cheney.) He urged support for the later-discredited Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi’s opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, and echoed some of its suspect accusations in the national media. And he advanced misleading assertions not only about Mr. Hussein’s supposed weapons programs but also about his possible ties to international terrorists, Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, Mr. McCain’s supporters note that he became an early critic of the administration’s execution of the occupation, and they credit him with pushing the troop “surge” that helped bring stability. Mr. McCain, though, stands by his support for the war and expresses no regrets about his advocacy.

In written answers to questions, he blamed “Iraq’s opacity under Saddam” for any misleading remarks he made about the peril it posed.

The Sept. 11 attacks “demonstrated the grave threat posed by a hostile regime, possessing weapons of mass destruction, and with reported ties to terrorists,” Mr. McCain wrote in an e-mail message on Friday. Given Mr. Hussein’s history of pursuing illegal weapons and his avowed hostility to the United States, “his regime posed a threat we had to take seriously.” The attacks were still a reminder, Mr. McCain added, of the importance of international action “to prevent outlaw states — like Iran today — from developing weapons of mass destruction.”

Formative Years

Mr. McCain has been debating questions about the use of military force far longer than most. He grew up in a family that had sent a son to every American war since 1776, and international relations were a staple of the McCain family dinner table. Mr. McCain grew up listening to his father, Adm. John S. McCain Jr., deliver lectures on “The Four Ocean Navy and the Soviet Threat,” closing with a slide of an image he considered the ultimate factor in the balance of power: a soldier marching through a rice paddy with a rifle at his shoulder.

“To quote Sherman, war is all hell and we need to fight it out and get it over with and that is when the killing stops,” recalled Joe McCain, Senator McCain’s younger brother.

Vietnam, for Senator McCain, reinforced those lessons. He has often said he blamed the Johnson administration’s pause in bombing for prolonging the war, and he credited President Richard M. Nixon’s renewed attacks with securing his release from a North Vietnamese prison. He has made the principle that the exercise of military power sets the bargaining table for international relations a consistent theme of his career ever since, and in his 2002 memoir he wrote that one of his lifelong convictions was “the imperative that American power never retreat in response to an inferior adversary’s provocation.”

But Mr. McCain also took away from Vietnam a second, restraining lesson: the necessity for broad domestic support for any military action. For years he opposed a string of interventions — in Lebanon, Haiti, Somalia, and, for a time, the Balkans — on the grounds that the public would balk at the loss of life without clear national interests. “The Vietnam thing,” he recently said.

In the late 1990s, however, while he was beginning to consider his 2000 presidential race, he started rebalancing his view of the needs to project American strength and to sustain public support. The 1995 massacre of 5,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica under NATO’s watch struck at his conscience, he has said, and in addition to America’s strategic national interests — in that case, the future and credibility of NATO — Mr. McCain began to speak more expansively about America’s moral obligations as the only remaining superpower.

His aides say he later described the American air strikes in Bosnia in 1996 and in Kosovo in 1999 as a parable of political leadership: Mr. McCain, Senator Bob Dole and others had rallied Congressional support for the strikes despite widespread public opposition, then watched approval soar after the intervention helped to bring peace.

“Americans elect their leaders to make these kinds of judgments,” Mr. McCain said in the e-mail message.

It was during the Balkan wars that Mr. McCain and his advisers read a 1997 article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page by William Kristol and David Brooks of The Weekly Standard — both now Op-Ed page columnists at The New York Times — promoting the idea of “national greatness” conservatism, defined by a more activist agenda at home and a more muscular role in the world.

“I wouldn’t call it a ‘eureka’ moment, but there was a sense that this is where we are headed and this is what we are trying to articulate and they have already done a lot of the work,” said John Weaver, a former McCain political adviser. “And, quite frankly, from a crass political point of view, we were in the making-friends business. The Weekly Standard represented a part of the primary electorate that we could get.”

Soon Mr. McCain and his aides were consulting regularly with the circle of hawkish foreign policy thinkers sometimes referred to as neoconservatives — including Mr. Kristol, Robert Kagan and Randy Scheunemann, a former aide to Mr. Dole who became a McCain campaign adviser — to develop the senator’s foreign policy ideas and instincts into the broad themes of a presidential campaign. (In his e-mail message, Mr. McCain noted that he had also consulted with friends like Henry A. Kissinger, known for a narrower view of American interests.)

One result was a series of speeches in which Mr. McCain called for “rogue state rollback.” He argued that disparate regional troublemakers, including Iraq, North Korea and Serbia, bore a common stamp: they were all autocracies. And as such, he contended, they were more likely to export terrorism, spread dangerous weapons, or start ethnic conflicts. In an early outline of what would become his initial response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. McCain argued that “swift and sure” retribution against any one of the rogue states was an essential deterrent to any of the others. But Mr. McCain’s advisers and aides say his “rogue state” speeches stopped short of the most sweeping international agenda put forth by Mr. Kristol, Mr. Kagan and their allies. Mr. McCain explicitly disavowed direct military action merely to advance American values, foreswearing any “global crusade” of interventions in favor of relying on covert and financial support for internal opposition groups.

As an example, he could point to his 1998 sponsorship of the Iraqi Liberation Act, which sought to direct nearly $100 million to Iraqis who hoped to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The bill, signed by President Bill Clinton, also endorsed the ouster of Mr. Hussein.

Mr. McCain said then that he doubted the United States could muster the political will to use ground troops to remove the Iraqi dictator any time soon. “It was much easier when Saddam Hussein was occupying Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia,” the senator told Fox News in November 1998. “We’d have to convince the American people that it’s worth again the sacrifice of American lives, because that would also be part of the price.”

Hard Calls

Mr. McCain spent the afternoon of Sept. 11 in a young aide’s studio apartment near the Capitol. There was no cable television, nothing but water in the kitchen, and the hallway reminded him of an old boxing gym. Evacuated from his office but stranded by traffic, he could not resist imagining himself at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. “There are not enough Secret Service agents in the world to keep me away from Washington and New York at a time like this,” Mr. McCain told an adviser.

Over the next days and weeks, however, Mr. McCain became almost as visible as he would have been as president. Broadcasters rushed to him as a patriotic icon and reassuring voice, and for weeks he was ubiquitous on the morning news programs, Sunday talk shows, cable news networks, and even late-night comedy shows.

In the spotlight, he pushed rogue state rollback one step further, arguing that the United States should go on the offensive as a warning to any other country that might condone such an attack. “These networks are well-embedded in some of these countries,” Mr. McCain said on Sept. 12, listing Iraq, Iran and Syria as potential targets of United States pressure. “We’re going to have to prove to them that we are very serious, and the price that they will pay will not only be for punishment but also deterrence.”

Although he had campaigned for President Bush during the 2000 general election, he was still largely frozen out of the White House because of animosities left over from the Republican primary. But after Mr. Bush declared he would hold responsible any country condoning terrorism, Mr. McCain called his leadership “magnificent” and his national security team the strongest “that has ever been assembled.” A few weeks later, Larry King of CNN asked whether he would have named Mr. Rumsfeld and Colin L. Powell to a McCain cabinet. “Oh, yes, and Cheney,” Mr. McCain answered, saying he, too, would have offered Mr. Cheney the vice presidency.

Even during the heat of the war in Afghanistan, Mr. McCain kept an eye on Iraq. To Jay Leno in mid-September, Mr. McCain said he believed “some other countries” had assisted Osama bin Laden, going on to suggest Iraq, Syria and Iran as potential suspects. In October 2001, when an Op-Ed page column in The New York Times speculated that Iraq, Russia or some other country might bear responsibility for that month’s anthrax mailings, Mr. McCain interrupted a question about Afghanistan from David Letterman on that night’s “Late Show.” “The second phase is Iraq,” Mr. McCain said, adding, “Some of this anthrax may — and I emphasize may — have come from Iraq.” (The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it came from a federal government laboratory in Maryland.) By October, United States and foreign intelligence agencies had said publicly that they doubted any cooperation between Mr. Hussein and Al Qaeda, noting Al Qaeda’s opposition to such secular nationalists. American intelligence officials soon declared that Mr. Hussein had not supported international terrorism for nearly a decade.

But when the Czech government said that before the attacks, one of the 9/11 hijackers had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence official, Mr. McCain seized the report as something close to a smoking gun. “The evidence is very clear,” he said three days later, in an Oct. 29 television interview. (Intelligence agencies quickly cast doubt on the meeting.)

Frustrated by the dearth of American intelligence about Iraq, Mr. McCain’s aides say, he had long sought to learn as much as he could from Iraqi opposition figures in exile, including Mr. Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. Over the years, Mr. McCain often urged support for the group, saying it had “significant support, in my view, inside Iraq.”

After Sept. 11, Mr. Chalabi’s group said an Iraqi emissary had once met with Osama bin Laden, and brought forward two Iraqi defectors who described terrorist training camps and biological weapons efforts. At times, Mr. McCain seemed to echo their accusations, citing the “two defectors” in a television interview and attesting to “credible reports of involvement between Iraqi administration officials, Iraqi officials and the terrorists.”

Growing Impatient

But United States intelligence officials had doubts about Mr. Chalabi at the time and have since discredited his group. In 2006, Mr. McCain acknowledged to The New Republic that he had been “too enamored with the I.N.C.” In his e-mail message, though, he said he never relied on the group for information about Iraq’s weapons program.

At a European security conference in February 2002, when the Bush administration still publicly maintained that it had made no decision about moving against Iraq, Mr. McCain described an invasion as all but certain. “A terrorist resides in Baghdad,” he said, adding, “A day of reckoning is approaching.”

Regime change in Iraq in addition to Afghanistan, he argued, would compel other sponsors of terrorism to mend their ways, “accomplishing by example what we would otherwise have to pursue through force of arms.”

Finally, as American troops massed in the Persian Gulf in early 2003, Mr. McCain grew impatient, his aides say, concerned that the White House was failing to act as the hot desert summer neared. Waiting, he warned in a speech in Washington, risked squandering the public and international support aroused by Sept. 11. “Does anyone really believe that the world’s will to contain Saddam won’t eventually collapse as utterly as it did in the 1990s?” Mr. McCain asked.

In retrospect, some of Mr. McCain’s critics now accuse him of looking for a pretext to justify the war. “McCain was hell-bent for leather: ‘Saddam Hussein is a bad guy, we have got to teach him, let’s send a message to the other people in the Middle East,’ ” said Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts.

But Mr. McCain, in his e-mail message, said the reason he had supported the war was the evolving threat from Mr. Hussein.

“I believe voters elect their leaders based on their experience and judgment — their ability to make hard calls, for instance, on matters of war and peace,” he wrote. “It’s important to get them right.”

Today is a day to remember those who have served our country, those who have provided a lifetime of service to our way of life, those who have children serving in our Armed Forces, and most of all those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Today is also a day to remember that some candidates have worshiped in a church that preaches and wants us to believe that America deserved the attacks of 9/11. Also remember that a particular presidential candidate holds a close friendship to this pastor (for 20 years). No matter how much denouncing happens, 20 years does not disappear.

Candidates and Pastors alike should never bestow evil upon our great nation. Shame on Americans who abuse their freedom in such a way.

We shall never forget.

Posted by: Vance | September 11, 2008 10:10 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"Have we learned anything?"

Yes, that we should not be sending BRIGADES of troops to Afghanistan, as Joe Biden promised in his acceptance speech, because Russia is simply going to do to us what we did to them.

We should instead figure out some other way to help the region and finish the job we started.

Posted by: Nate | September 11, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The town in New Jersey where I lived at the time lost 36 people in the attack.

Poor innocent schnooks who caught the 7:11 AM train that day from Middletown - baught their coffee and newspaper - took their usual seats - read or snoozed.

The train arrrived at Newark where they changed to the PATH train to NYC.

They arrived at the WTC, rode the gigantic escalators or if young and fit, jogged up the stairs. At the top of the escalator they turned right and right again - passed the drug store, shops, flower stands and the old Chemical Bank branch toward the revolving doors.

They walked through the doors to the elevators or to the escalator / bridge to the World Financial Center (where I worked).

How many days did I make that trip? How many days did I spend in the towers, moving from floor to floor maybe calling on the many Janpanese banks located there.

Not that day.

That day I had to go to Cranford NJ.

God bless them all.

Posted by: toritto | September 11, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The town in New Jersey where I lived at the time lost 36 people in the attack.

Poor innocent schnooks who caught the 7:11 AM train that day from Middletown - baught their coffee and newspaper - took their usual seats - read or snoozed.

The train arrrived at Newark where they changed to the PATH train to NYC.

They arrived at the WTC, rode the gigantic escalators or if young and fit, jogged up the stairs. At the top of the escalator they turned right and right again - passed the drug store, shops, flower stands and the old Chemical Bank branch toward the revolving doors.

They walked through the doors to the elevators or to the escalator / bridge to the World Financial Center (where I worked).

How many days did I make that trip? How many days did I spend in the towers, moving from floor to floor maybe calling on the many Janpanese banks located there.

Not that day.

That day I had to go to Cranford NJ.

God bless them all.

Posted by: toritto | September 11, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Thank God we have not been attacked since 2001.

Posted by: JakeD | September 11, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Back in the seventies, senior Carter administration officials encouraged Afganistan to provoke the Soviet Union. In response, Soviet Russia invaded Afganistan and slaughted thousands.
Reagan came to the aid of Afgan resistance to the tune of $500 million. Russia lost the war after destroying the country, then the Soviet empire fell.
After spending $500million to get the Afgan Mujahadeen (Osama's group) to fight the Soviets on our behalf, the Reagan administration refused to fund an additional $1million to build schools for their orphaned children. The Talliban moved in and took that job, raising a generation of radical militant Islamists.

On 9/11 those militants attacked the Twin Towers, and the Pentagon. The world is still reeling. It may have seemed like it at the time, but those planes didn't fall out of nowhere.

Have we learned anything?

Posted by: Charles | September 11, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Today is a day to remember those who have served our country, those who have provided a lifetime of service to our way of life, those who have children serving in our Armed Forces, and most of all those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Today is also a day to remember that some candidates have worshiped in a church that preaches and wants us to believe that America deserved the attacks of 9/11. Also remember that a particular presidential candidate holds a close friendship to this pastor (for 20 years). No matter how much denouncing happens, 20 years does not disappear.

Candidates and Pastors alike should never bestow evil upon our great nation. Shame on Americans who abuse their freedom in such a way.

We shall never forget.

Posted by: Vance | September 11, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

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