9 Deep within the catalogue of regrets that is the 9/11 Commission report – long after readers learn of the origins and objectives of al-Qaeda, past the warnings ignored by consecutive administrations, through the litany of institutional failures that allowed terrorists to hijack four commercial airliners – the authors pause to make a rousing case for the power of the nation’s character. “The U.S. government must define what the message is, what it stands for,” the report asserts. “We should offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors. . . . We need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values.” This affirmation of American idealism is one of the document’s more opinionated moments. Looking back, it’s also among the most ignored. Rather than exemplify the nation’s highest values, the official response to 9/11 unleashed some of its worst qualities: deception, brutality, arrogance, ignorance, delusion, overreach and carelessness. This conclusion is laid bare in the sprawling literature to emerge from 9/11 over the past two decades – the works of investigation, memoir and narrative by… Read full this story
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