9/11 Families Voice Support for President Bush

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Family members of Americans killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are speaking out in support of President Bush.

A group calling itself "9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America" has published an open letter to America on its website that states, "After the attack, President Bush articulated the primary lesson of September 11, that simply reacting to danger after lives are lost is a weak and unacceptable national defense."

"He believes that taking the fight to the enemy is the best way to ensure that the enemy will not bring death to our doorstep here at home," the letter continues. "We agree."

Co-founder Debra Burlingame told CNSNews.com the group was formed primarily in response to the media's attention on "the same handful" of 9/11 families that speak out against President Bush.

"On many, many occasions," she explained, "they do not in any way reflect what we think and feel."

Burlingame said families that have been in the media spotlight "publish open letters and demands and criticism and they consult no one but each other. That's very frustrating for us [other 9/11 families], because we believe that the president exhibited strong leadership on September 11 and the days going forward."

Burlingame added that members of her group "think that national security and the war on terror is the number one issue confronting the country."

She said the families joining her group support President Bush because of "his aggressiveness [and] his leadership" after the attacks that killed more than 3,000 American civilians.

So far, 68 people who lost relatives in the Sept. 11 attacks have signed on to the letter.

Implications that all 9/11 families share the same negative views on President Bush's leadership is troubling, Burlingame told CNSNews.com . And, she added, "those of us that have gotten together [in 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America], we are from every political stripe."

Burlingame called herself a "dyed in the wool liberal," saying she supported former President Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and former Vice President Al Gore in 2000. "But to us," she said of her support for President Bush's decisions in the war on terror, "it doesn't have anything to do with party affiliation."

Another group is fighting the opposite battle, but has no ill-will for Bush supporters.

Co-director of September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows David Potorti told CNSNews.com that even though his group tries to "create space where people can talk about alternatives to war," he has no problem with the work of the 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America.

"I'm not critical of anybody's group," Potorti said. "I think everybody is free to do whatever they want and to say whatever they want."

Peaceful Tomorrows was formed in February 2002 and works with other victims groups to seek out "alternative ways of dealing with the threat of terrorism, ways that are not just about military response but are about all sorts of other ways of dealing with the rest of the world," according to Potorti.

In addition to meeting with groups from Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Israel and other terrorism-torn nations, Potorti said his group has attempted to work with the Bush administration to prevent and solve international terrorism problems.

"We feel like the president is everybody's president, and we can talk to him and write to him and petition him and certainly wish there was more cooperation, but ... nobody's prevented us from making those statements," he said.

Potorti said that his group is a non-profit organization, a standing that prohibits it from engaging in campaigning or endorsing any political candidate.

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