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White House's 9/11 Anniversary Guidelines Ask Officials to 'Minimize References to Al Qaeda


"...a positive, forward-looking narrative."

The White House has provided guidelines to government officials regarding how to observe and discuss the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. While there are certainly some beneficial recommendations held within, some may interpret the disseminated documents as more agenda-driven than not.

These instructions include information about how to honor the lives lost here in America. Additionally, they call for remembrance of the fact that Al Qaeda and other terror groups have also killed innocent individuals in other localities across the globe. Politico has more:

The guidelines detail what the White House has deemed the important themes that must be discussed, as well as the tone the 9/11 observances should take.

“A chief goal of our communications is to present a positive, forward-looking narrative,” the foreign guidelines state.

Again, these are worthwhile goals and ideals, but they may be viewed as something more sinister by President Obama's political opponents. The Atlantic writes:

Though rebuilding support for the U.S. abroad is a worthy goal, it seems like these guidelines will fit in neatly with a popular meme on the right, that President Obama goes around the world and apologizes for how awesome America is. "Obama's apology tour" has been debunked by The Washington Post and other places, but several Republican presidential candidates have made references to Obama's supposed tendency to play down American specialness abroad. That events commemorating 9/11 will be "not just about us" seems likely to fit into that theme.

The guidelines came in two sections, each aimed at a very different audience. One, which was sent to American embassies and consulates across the globe, is intended to assist overseas allies and foreign citizens. In this document, the guidelines call for agencies to focus upon the global battle against terrorism. The text reads:

“As we commemorate the citizens of over 90 countries who perished in the 9/11 attacks, we honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation around the world. We honor and celebrate the resilience of individuals, families, and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.”

Interestingly, the foreign document states that officials should "minimize references to Al Qaeda." Within the text, Osama bin Laden's death is the reason given for this request. In what could be interpreted as somewhat of a political call to arms, the guidelines tell officials to place emphasis on the fact that "Al Qaeda and its adherents have become increasingly irrelevant."

Additionally, foreign leaders are encouraged to highlight the notion that Al Qaeda played no major roll in the Arab Spring. Further expounding upon this ideal, foreign commemoration ceremonies should focus on the idea that Al Qaeda "represents the past" and that peaceful Arab protests "represent the future." Clearly, there is a balance here that is intended to bring Arabs on America's side, rather than being divisive in addressing the issues surrounding the attacks.

The second document, which was sent to federal agencies, is intended for individuals here in America. The guidelines presented within emphasize the need for national service in remembrance of the attacks, while highlighting what the U.S. government has done to prevent another major terror event from taking pace. The single sheet suggests that Americans "draw on the spirit of unity that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks."

According to The New York Times, one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said:

“The important theme is to show the world how much we realize that 9/11 — the attacks themselves and violent extremism writ large — is not ‘just about us.”

And UPI writes:

One significant theme in both sets of documents is that Americans must be prepared for another attack and must be resilient in recovering from the loss. Resilience is a repeated theme of the communications.

There is no doubt that the U.S. is treading carefully, especially in issuing the  foreign guidelines. With negative opinions about America festering in foreign nations, the intention held within the text seems to indicate that the U.S. wants to avoid alienating others, especially those in Arab nations. The attempt to diminish the Al Qaeda also serves the political purposes of instilling a sense of victory both at home and abroad.

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