Another day of infamy

September 12, 2001

This editorial appeared yesterday in a special edition of the Detroit Free Press.

There she stood, Lady Liberty, welcoming the world to America's shores. Behind her, smoke and dust poured from the collapsed towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The split screen showed more smoke and destruction in Washington, where the Free World - and those who long for freedom - look for strength and leadership. This, too, was a day that will live in infamy.

America was attacked Tuesday - with devastating impact. Freedom was rocked to its foundations by suicidal terrorist strikes in New York and Washington, and two apparently related aircraft hijackings that ended in crashes.

Each new report was more incredible than the last. The death toll will be in the thousands. The images on television seemed unreal, the emotions overwhelming. The impact on our sense of security will be profound. Suddenly, Americans in America are more vulnerable than we were ever willing to believe.

But we are not defeated. We will not surrender to the cowardly forces of terrorism, who would bring America to her knees.

The first reactions must be the necessary ones: Contain the damage, recover the bodies, treat the injured, secure the nation, keep the peace. President Bush should extend all the resources of the federal government, including the military, to assist local authorities in this work.

The president also should set aside a national day of mourning for the victims. They died for freedom, as surely as the victims of Pearl Harbor.

At another level, America must marshal its forces, gather intelligence and lean hard on its allies and dependents around the world to aid in the pursuit of those responsible for these attacks.

There should be no safe haven for them anywhere, and any nation that would offer sanctuary is as culpable as the terrorists themselves.

The attacks exposed a serious weakness in the U.S. intelligence network: How could an operation on this scale have gone undetected?

This was clearly a coordinated assault. It had to be planned somewhere. Someone was pulling the strings and giving the orders. Someone was celebrating a great victory. Someone must pay. American leadership must see to it.

Lady Liberty still stands tall. Shrouded in smoke. Covered in dust and blood. She is crying. She is afraid. She is angry. But she will not yield.

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