- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s planned wreath-laying visit to Ground Zero is an egregious insult to Americans in general and in particular to the family members and victims killed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The New York Police Department commendably rejected Mr. Ahmadinejad’s request to access the site, where a 1,776-foot structure called Freedom Tower is being constructed to commemorate those who lost their lives during the horrific bloodshed. The New York Police Department and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — the law enforcement branch that owns the site — had wisely decided during a Sept. 6 meeting that no foreign dignitaries, including Mr. Ahmadinejad, would be allowed to enter the construction site while in town for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

However, the chain link fence and surrounding sidewalk above the construction pit is a public area, and Mr. Ahmadinejad has indicated that he hopes on Monday to lay a remembrance wreath there to commemorate those killed in the attacks. If he does intrude that area, the question is whether he’d be mourning the 2,752 innocent victims killed in the attacks or glorifying the 19 hijackers who died while committing their heinous crime. Either way his presence would offend America.

In a perverse series of events, taxpayers would be footing the bill for the Secret Service agents standing guard as the West-hating “head of state” desecrates a site hallowed by those men, women and children who suffered at the hands of violent jihadists, whose compatriots today receive funding from Mr. Ahmadinejad in their fight against U.S. forces in Iraq.

Mr. Ahmadinejad will enter our country on a visa issued by our State Department and will be allowed free travel within a 25-mile radius of Columbus Circle in the heart of New York City. It is a comment on the civility, tolerance and commitment to global conciliation of our government, which is willing to host the leader of country that has not enjoyed diplomatic relations with the United States since 1980 and the Iranian hostage crisis. A state sponsor of terrorism, Iran has disrupted the Middle East peace process and increased its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s threats to wipe Israel off the map and Tehran’s support for terrorism warrant indictment under the 1948 U.N. Genocide Convention, the international agreement that brought Rwandan leaders to justice. Those facts warrant discussion.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s ploy to create a stomach-curling photo-op violates the memory of the September 11 victims.

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