Today Barack Obama, John McCain, and George W. Bush all spoke on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and none of them mentioned Osama Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who is still at large. Why have our political leaders forgotten Bin Laden?
Obama chose to talk about community service and generally mentioned defeating terrorist networks, “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.”
McCain played to his theme of heroism and courage, “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.”
While President Bush snuck in a defense of the war in Iraq while he was dedicating the Pentagon Memorial, “We also honor those who raised their hands and made the noble decision to defend our nation in a time of war. When our enemies attacked the Pentagon, they pierced the rings of this building. But they could not break the resolve of the United States Armed Forces. Since 9/11, our troops have taken the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. Thanks to the brave men and women, and all those who work to keep us safe, there has not been another attack on our soil in 2,557 days.”
On a day when all three men should have stood together and called for the capture of one of the great mass killers of our time, they all chose to play politics. McCain and Obama used their remarks to reaffirm campaign themes, while Bush defended his decision to go to war. I know why the Republicans won’t talk about Bin Laden. Doing so, would point out that their interventionist foreign policy has been a distraction and a failure, but it would not have hurt Obama to mention Bin Laden today, if nothing else, to remind people that he is still out there and needs to be brought to justice.
One of the great failures of our government over the past seven years has been their collective lack of will and desire to catch Bin Laden. Every day that Bin Laden remains free, justice is not done for the victims of 9/11. Bringing Bin Laden to justice will not solve the terrorism problem, but it will allow the world to hold him accountable for his crimes. In the back of our minds we all know that Bin Laden is still free, and every 9/11 that rolls by reminds us that Bin Laden got away with murder because we allowed him to.