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DANIEL HENNINGER: Whatever Happened to 9/11? – WSJ.com

September 8, 2011

Congress united on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001.

Whatever Happened to 9/11?

The national unity is gone, but President Obama has quietly continued many of the Bush anti-terror policies that divided the parties.

By DANIEL HENNINGER

WONDER LAND SEPTEMBER 8, 2011

‘September 11 changed everything.”

It changed a lot, but it didn’t change everything.

Many things written after 9/11 about the nation’s revived sense of common purpose didn’t hold up. The display of solidarity on the Capitol steps that day dissolved. The presidency of George W. Bush spent six years fighting the war on terror with one hand, while the other hand fended off an opposition determined to stop him and his antiterror policies.

It wasn’t hard to see the basis for optimism about the nation’s unity after the attack, especially if you were in Lower Manhattan that morning.

The Journal’s headquarters were downtown, with the World Trade Center towers always in view across the street. This meant many of us would be there the morning of September 11 (it was later that the day passed into modern usage as 9/11).

At 8:46 a.m., I was on Vesey Street, glancing up at a blue autumn sky, and so by coincidence I saw the first airliner fly into the North Tower. The temper of the days and weeks that followed the attacks in New York, Washington and a Pennsylvania field made one think this day had inalterably changed the American people. Small towns from New Jersey up through Connecticut each had multiple families who lost members that day. That evening people in these towns walked in quiet vigils. And as we all recall, the American flags came out.

This was notable. The yellow ribbons of modern sentiment stayed put. Instead, people put out Old Glory. The flags expressed unfettered patriotism. Perhaps the flags everywhere were why someone named the Bush antiterror legislation the USA Patriot Act.

The Patriot Act, of course, became one of the most litigated and despised pieces of legislation in the nation’s history. The antiterror law passed the Senate by a 98-1 vote in October 2001 (at the time of anthrax episodes in the Capitol and elsewhere). But eventually the national Democratic Party and its affiliates went into opposition to “the Bush war on terror.” In time, even the nomenclature of the enemy was in dispute.

Virtually every aspect of the Bush antiterror policies became a target for litigation from the ACLU, opposition in Congress and press exposures: the wiretaps, Guantanamo, the Swift program to track terrorist finances, military courts, the Bush Doctrine of pre-preemptive strikes, terrorist interrogations. Opposition to the Iraq war rose, too, but the effort to thwart the provisions of the Patriot Act was a separate front.

via Henninger: Whatever Happened to 9/11? – WSJ.com.

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