GOP continues sparring with 9/11 families


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Geraldine Sealey
March 10, 2004 9:06PM (UTC)

The RNC is circulating today a Wall Street Journal editorial questioning the merits of the complaints from 9/11 families about the president's manipulation of 9/11 in his campaign ads. "Has anyone else out there begun to wonder just who these 9/11 'families' are that have been interviewed without end the past week about their 'outrage' over President Bush's TV ads with a quick clip of September 11? Are they all neutral innocents, as depicted, or are they part of an organized anti-Bush opposition?" the editorial asks.

It is offensive, it almost goes without saying, to suggest that these families are no longer "innocent" victims if they oppose the president. Do Republicans really want to take the position that it's okay to offend 9/11 families if they disagree with the president on matters of policy, from the war in Iraq to his handling of the 9/11 commission?

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The WSJ editorial focuses on one 9/11 family group, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, as particularly suspect because the group opposed Bush's military response to the terror attacks in both Afghanistan and Iraq and because the group has ties to "left-wing activist groups."

But a different group, the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission has issued a statement critical of both the Bush-Cheney '04 ads and the president's dealings with the 9/11 commission. "For two years, the Family Steering Committee, a group with no political party affiliations, has been working to find out why this nation was so vulnerable to terrorists on 9/11. Recently, we publicly criticized President Bush's ad campaign because he previously said he would not use 9/11 in this manner. We also believe that invoking the death of our loved ones in a campaign ad is insensitive."

"Our message has been consistent. Our goal is to understand how our government's intelligence and defense agencies failed to both prevent and mitigate the devastation of 9/11. Only then can we learn important lessons and implement the reforms needed We have been accused of being tutored by a particular political party to make statements against the current administration. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are Americans who care about the future of this country. Our nonpartisan mission has always been clear: to find out how 9/11 happened so that nothing like it will ever happen again."

The RNC and the Wall Street Journal should listen to these families' pleas for decency in political ads and cooperation with the probe into why 9/11 happened. While they're at it, they should also consult the Gallup poll released yesterday that shows 66 percent of Americans agree with the 9/11 families that it is inappropriate to use 9/11 images in political ads.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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