Obama Admin Defends Issuing “Talking Points” To Officials Telling Them To “Minimize References To Al-Qaeda” When Speaking About 9/11…
(Fox) — Top spokesmen for the Obama administration on Tuesday defended the White House’s issuance of “talking points” designed to shape how federal officials in this country and American diplomats serving abroad frame the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The guidelines, which were first reported by The New York Times, encompassed two sets of instructions: one drawn up chiefly for domestic consumption, the other geared primarily toward foreign audiences and disseminated to U.S. Embassy officers throughout the world.
“This is not unusual,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, adding that the Bush administration had issued press guidance for federal officials on the occasions of the second and fifth anniversaries of Sept. 11 – which Nuland repeatedly referred to in her briefing from the State Department podium as “nine-one-one.”
Nuland said the advisory to overseas ambassadors and their consular staff was motivated “primarily to ensure that embassies are marking the event, that they are having joint events in their host country to stand together against terrorism, and ensure that the day is marked appropriately internationally.”
Still, the documents, as reported in the Times¸ contained some unusual elements.
One set of guidelines urged U.S. officials to “minimize references to Al-Qaeda.” The documents cited the killing of Usama bin Laden as evidence that the terror network that plotted and executed the Sept. 11 attacks is becoming “increasingly irrelevant.”
Another talking point instructed American officials overseas to seek to universalize the commemorative day by noting: “We honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation…whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.