September 11, 2001: 4th Anniversary "Freedom Walk"

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Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced in his August 9, 2005, Iraq war briefing that the 4th Anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, would be marked with the "first-ever 'America Supports You Freedom Walk' to remember the victims of Sept. 11, 2001, to honor U.S. troops and veterans, and to highlight the value of freedom."

"'This year the Department of Defense will initiate an America Supports You Freedom Walk,' Rumsfeld said, adding that existing war memorials and monuments along the route would remind people of 'the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation.' [1]

"The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died on 9/11, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black," Michael McAuliffe reported in the New York Daily News.

"Protesting the walk," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense, "would be tantamount to 'protesting the events of September 11 or protesting our veterans'," Jon Fogg reported in the August 11, 2005, Washington Times.

Update
In spite of the massive search and rescue and relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, the "Department of Defense commemoration for victims’ families of the events of Sept. 11, 2001" goes forward, according to a September 7, 2005, DoD press release.


Linking September 11, 2001, with war in Iraq

Rumsfeld's announcement has been described by some as "bizarre", "odd", "obscene", and "incredible", among other things.

  • Joshua Huck wrote in the August 12, 2005, Daily Texan Online:
"Intended to boost support for America's troops in Iraq (and transparently enough, the Bush administration's unpopular policies), the planned festivities should instead boost America's anger against a blatant attempt to manipulate our opinions through our emotions. In order to reinforce the false, but aggravatingly popular belief that Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War are somehow linked to that morning in September, the Bush administration is exploiting both the tragedy of thousands of innocent deaths here at home, and our country's capacity to empathize with our fallen comrades abroad.
"Because Bush and company have repeatedly failed to justify our massive intervention in the Middle East, and refused to acknowledge our current problems in that region and lack of preparation going in, we must be subjected to this vicious propaganda."
  • "You might think that the secretary of defense could come up with a more tasteful way to reflect on 9/11. And you might think that the Bush administration would be able to refrain, just this once, from linking the war in Iraq back to the attacks on 9/11. You'd be wrong on both counts." --Salon, August 10, 2005.
  • Michael McAuliff wrote in the Daily News that the announcement "reignited debate and anger over linking Sept. 11 with the war in Iraq.
"'That piece of it is disturbing since we all know now there was no connection,' said Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq veteran who heads Operation Truth, an anti-administration military booster.
"Rieckhoff suggested the event was an ill-conceived publicity stunt. 'I think it's clear that their public opinion polls are in the toilet,' he said.
"Rumsfeld's walk had some relatives of 9/11 victims fuming.
"'How about telling Mr. Rumsfeld to leave the memories of Sept. 11 victims to the families?' said Monica Gabrielle, who lost her husband in the attacks.
"Administration supporters insisted Rumsfeld was right to link Iraq and 9/11, and hold the rally."

Reaction from the Blogs

  • "Conservative bloggers saluted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week after he announced plans for a 'Freedom Walk' on Sept. 11 to honor U.S. troops and veterans as well as victims of the attacks.
"As postings on the right-wing FREE REPUBLIC debated using bullhorns to silence 'protestors wearing peace signs and rainbows,' lefty blogs questioned how the Pentagon could stage a show of support for the Iraqi war on the fourth anniversary of Sept. 11.
"With a Clint Black concert set as the event's grand finale on the Washington Mall, BUZZMACHINE asked, 'What's next: line-dancing on the graves?'" CNN BlogWatch, August 15, 2005; Time BlogWatch, August 22, 2005.
  • "Call me crazy, but I just don't think that a commemoration of 9/11 should be mixed in with a 'support the troops' march. You know what this is? A thinly veiled pro-war rally. And concert!" --A Small Victory, August 10, 2005.
  • "Yes, Clint Black, the controversial country singer who wrote Iraq and Roll which nicely conflated 9/11 and Saddam Hussein in the build up to the Iraq war." --Demagogue Blogspot, August 10, 2005.
  • "Nothing Honors the Dead like an Old-Fashioned Hoedown." --James Wolcott, August 10, 2005.
  • "Now why would people be upset? ... I mean really? ... Let's have a big old party to celebrate the biggest attack on American soil by foreigners since Pearl Harbor with a par-tay!" --SupremeIrony Blogspot, August 10, 2005.
  • "Um, remember when GHWB's infatuation with the Statler Bros. was kind of cute? Farce is being replayed as tragedy with the America Supports You Freedom Walk, brought to you by Lockheed Martin and Subway among others, which honors our 9/11 and war dead with... washed-up Nashville balladry puppet Clint Black." --Radiation Vibe Blogspot, August 10, 2005.
  • "What, it won't pass by Walter Reed [Army Hospital], so the vets can hobble on their new legs along with the marchers? My God, are we not supposed to notice Cindy Sheehan sitting outside the Pig Farm, yet participate in something that would have shamed Francisco Franco? ... Disgusted isn't the word for this. Violated, maybe. Ashamed, another. Wow. ... Oh yeah, Clint Black should roast in hell for participating in this monstrosity. Why not piss on some graves instead?" --Steve Gilliard, The News Blog, August 10, 2005.
  • "Remember Rudy Giuliani's bravura propaganda turn at last year's GOP convention? When he delivered the plainly apocryphal tale about turning to Bernie Kerik amid the smoke and rubble of the WTC attacks and blurting, 'Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president'? ... Well, now the Bush administration has come up with something for those Americans who found that performance just too goddamn tasteful. It's called the America Supports You Freedom Walk ..." --Wonkette, August 10, 2005.

Reaction Elsewhere on the Internet

"It is probably worth noting that this effort by the Trotskyite neocon Bush Administration was greatly helped when early plans for an antiwar & pro-9/11 truth rally in DC on 9/11/05 were superceded when communist front group A.N.S.W.E.R., the 800-pound gorilla of antiwar protests, called for a mobilization on Sept. 24 instead." --Total911, August 10, 2005.

"Free"dom Walk

The Carpetbagger Report remarked August 11, 2005:

"But here's the part that caught my attention: to participate in the 'Freedom Walk,' you'll need to register with the Department of Defense.

Participants are encouraged to arrive at the Pentagon South parking lot between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. for screening to avoid long lines. The first 1,000 to arrive for screening at the Pentagon on September 11, will receive the official America Supports You campaign lapel pin.

"And while I'm certain it's a handsome lapel pin, what, exactly, does 'screening' mean?"

"That's right, in order to participate in a government-sponsored 'Freedom Walk' on public streets past public monuments, from one outdoor public landmark to another, you have to give your name address, phone number, and email address to the Pentagon."

"Exactly how 'free' will our 'freedom walk' be?," the Report asks. [2]

Note: Be sure to read comments which follow The Carpetbagger posting.

Freedom-Walk.org

Please note that the Pentagon-sponsored "Freedom Walk" is not, however, the same as the Freedom-Walk Prison Ministry, a member of C.O.P.E. (Coalition of Prison Evangelists), whose web address is freedomwalk.org.

"Supporters"

Source: asyfreedomwalk.com/sponsors.html

Feedback on Media Sponsoring the Walk

"Two weeks after The Washington Post pulled its co-sponsorship of a controversial Pentagon-organized march to commemorate Sept. 11, The Washington Times has offered to take its place," reports Editor & Publisher. The Washington Times' offer of free advertising is "a very reasonable thing to do in terms of public service," said general manager and vice-president Dick Amberg. Defense Department officials "have not responded to the offer, and it is unclear if it will be accepted."

After critics of the Iraq war challenged the Washington Posts sponsorship of the event, it at first defended its role. "The Washington Post has no plans to withdraw its co-sponsorship of a controversial Sept. 11 memorial walk being organized by the Department of Defense," Bo Jones told Editor and Publisher. But, he said the paper would pull out if the event turns out to be some kind of pro-war or political march.

"But Rick Weiss, a Post science reporter and co-chair of the Washington Post unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, noted the hypocrisy of the paper's involvement, since it bars reporters from participating in partisan events. "It is dismaying, to say the least, that I can be fired for participating in a peace march while my employer feels free to co-sponsor an event that so blatantly beats the drum of war,' Weiss stated." [3]

Later, in explaining its decision to pull out of the America Supports You "Freedom Walk," which includes a concert by Clint Black, the country musician who wrote the pro-war song "Iraq and I Roll," The Washington Post said its policy is to "avoid activities that might lead readers to question the objectivity of The Post's news coverage." [4]

"America Supports You"

"'America Supports You' is a nationwide program launched by DoD to recognize citizens’ support for U.S. military men and women and communicate that support to members of American Forces at home and abroad. Information on the program is found at www.americasupportsyou.mil," Rumsfeld said. [5]

According to Rumsfeld, "The 'America Supports You Freedom Walk' will be preceded by a private ceremony for the families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The Pentagon Memorial Fund is sponsoring the ceremony and additional information is available at www.pentagonmemorial.net." [6]

Links to both "America Supports You" and the "Freedom Walk" are posted on Defend America, the Department of Defense's "News About the War on Terrorism" website.

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

Department of Defense News Releases

Department of Defense Websites

Articles & Commentary

Previous September 11, 2001, Anniversary Events

2005