As the country’s leaders remember the thousands of Americans who lost their lives to terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, activists and social media users remind the public of the years of devastation those attacks were then used to justify. Fittingly as an outgrowth of that discussion, the name of former President George Bush was trending on Sunday along with video of a veteran’s demand of an apology from this country’s former leader.
That video was of anti-war activist and Iraq War veteran Mike Prysner. He interrupted Bush during a speaking engagement last September.
"Mr. Bush, when are you going to apologize for the million Iraqis that are dead because you lied?” the activist asked.
RELATED STORY: George W. Bush called out to his face over his war crimes in Iraq.
“You lied about weapons of mass destruction! You lied about connections to 9/11! You lied about Iraq being a threat,” Prysner continued. “You sent me to Iraq in 2003! My friends are dead!"
Despite Rep. Barbara Lee standing alone as the only member of Congress to oppose the war in Afghanistan, Bush, with the support of the U.S. Congress, invaded Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. Two years later, Bush justified war in Iraq with claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction and was supporting al-Qaeda, the very extremist group that produced the 19 terrorists who hijacked four commercial planes and crashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center 21 years ago.
RELATED STORY: 20 years ago Rep. Barbara Lee told America what would happen if we went into Afghanistan
The number of U.S. service members who died fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan passed 7,000 in 2019, according to the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
The death toll from September 11 attacks was 2,977.
“This was the single largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil,” the National September 11 Memorial and Museum reported on its website. “The attacks caused the deaths of 441 first responders, the greatest loss of emergency responders on a single day in American history.”
It was a day worth remembering, a day we should be teaching our children about but not in a vacuum.
“September 11th changed the world,” Lee said just three days after the attacks. “Our deepest fears now haunt us, yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States.”
She was right.
RELATED STORY: What happened and when: A timeline of the Jan. 6 insurrection
Itamar Rabinovich, Israel's former ambassador to the United States, wrote for the Brookings Institution last September:
"We now know that the claim that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was associated with al-Qaida was unfounded. We also know that he had no stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. The three principal decisionmakers, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, were motivated in part by the sense that the military operation in Afghanistan was not a sufficient retaliation for the blow inflicted on the U.S. homeland as well as the expectation that the toppling of Saddam would prompt a wave of positive changes in the Middle East. We also realize now just how detached from reality the vision of importing democracy to Iraq and from there to other parts of the region was."
Twitter users typed similar critiques on Sunday.
Democrat Dan Pereira tweeted: “After 9/11, George Bush, Dick Cheney & Repubs used fear of Islamic Terrorists to push their agenda including an illegal War with Iraq & crimes like waterboarding. Domestic Right Wing Terrorists always will be the greatest threat to America since they live here & are violent.”
RELATED STORY: What to Teach on September 11