With the 10th anniversary of 9/11, some touching remembrances have been written, but also an increasing number of op-eds, editorials and blog posts, the theme of which are “let’s stop looking back at 9/11 and start moving forward.” The second response is bad advice for several reasons.
While I appreciate the need to move ever forward, we must not forget the vicious attacks of ten years ago. We must not forget that it was a calculated attack on Americans and a strike at our way of life. We must not forget that we were attacked because we cherish freedom.
Moreover, there are important practical lessons to reflect upon regarding whether our response to 9/11 was appropriate. If we don’t reflect on those lessons and we continue or choose the wrong path, we may either make it more likely we will be attacked again or we will continue with legal and security regimes that are unnecessarily burdensome or threaten the liberty we cherish.
Professor John Yoo and I are very pleased, and honored, to have our book, Confronting Terror, featured as part of the Heritage Foundation’s Preserve the Constitution Series. The book is a collection of essays by 22 nationally-known legal and policy experts and scholars. It not only contains some moving remembrances, but it also contains a variety of sometimes opposing essays on what we have done right and wrong as a nation to respond to the attacks.
The book starts with a speech by former U. S. Solicitor General Ted Olson. In remarks delivered just weeks after the attacks, and the murder of his wife Barbara, Ted very powerfully recalls the events of the day. We thought this opening chapter set the proper tone for the book, which is a forum of debate of the War on Terror issues that remain controversial even today. Not only must we move forward as we discuss these still-controversial issues, we must continue to do so while looking back at the horrid events of 9/11, with an appreciation of the determined enemy we face.
Several other of the contributors will be present at a special discussion Tuesday at Heritage at noon, which we hope you can listen to either in person or over the Internet. John Yoo will square off with another contributor to Confronting Terror, Nadine Strossen, the former long-time head of the ACLU. Still another contributor, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III will host the event and provide a few reflections of his own.
Thus, we should strive to make the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the attack both an appropriate and productive one, remembering those who passed away on 9/11 and in the wars since then—and reflecting on whether the course we have set is the best means of preserving our cherished freedoms.
Dean Reuter is the co-editor of Confronting Terror and Vice President and Director of Practice Groups at the Federalist Society.
The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of The Heritage Foundation.