President Joe Biden is facing a wave of criticism for his actions in the days leading up to the 22nd anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, culminating in his failure to attend any official memorials on Monday. After falsely claiming that he was present at Ground Zero surveying the World Trade Center ruins the day after the attack, Biden agreed to an exchange of prisoners and $6 billion with Iran.

Joe Biden is facing criticism after falsely claiming that he visited Ground Zero the day after 9/11 and agreeing to a $6 billion prisoner swap with Iran. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As Valuetainment previously reported, Biden broke with longstanding presidential tradition on Monday by becoming the first president to not observe the anniversary of 9/11 from either the White House or one of the memorial sites. Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump were either present in the White House or at one of the memorials during their time in office.

Instead of following the example of his predecessors, Biden, who was making a return trip following the G20 Summit in India and a visit to Vietnam, gave a commemorative address from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska alongside military members. Vice President Kamala Harris attended the memorial service at the World Trade Center Plaza in New York City in his place.

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Though Biden’s absence at the memorials caused some mild controversy, it was his statement itself that warranted greater blowback. After beginning his remarks with a joke about Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (which many found distasteful given the context), Biden turned to his memories of September 11, 2001.  “I join you on this solemn day to renew our sacred vow: never forget. Never forget. We never forget. Each of us – each of those precious lives stolen too soon when evil attacked,” Biden said. “Ground Zero in New York – I remember standing there the next day, and looking at the building. And I felt like I was looking through the gates of hell, it looked so devastating because of the way – from where you could stand.”

However, as many even left-leaning media outlets quickly pointed out, Joe Biden was not present in New York City on September 12. Instead, he was in Washington DC, acting in his capacity as a US Senator. Biden’s own 2007 memoir Promises to Keep confirms that he “headed back to the Capitol” the day after the attacks. He did not visit Ground Zero until September 20, more than a week later.

But while commemorating the deadliest terrorist attack in American history with a demonstrable lie certainly drew warranted criticism, it paled in comparison to the outcry that followed the Monday announcement that Biden was also using the day to negotiate with terrorists.

Last week, the Biden administration signed off on a deal allowing for the return of five Americans being held prisoner in Iran. In exchange, the US will release five Iranian prisoners and allow banks in South Korea and Qatar to unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets. The agreement was announced to Congress on Monday following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s efforts over the last month. This exchange comes amid Biden’s ongoing efforts to resume the Iran Nuclear Deal, originally drafted by Obama and revoked by Trump. The current administration has made considerable efforts to bring the Iranian government back to the table, though negotiations have recently stalled.

But even as Biden made an effort to sweeten the US-Iran relationship, he also ensured that the United States remains in a state of emergency over the threat of terrorism. Repeating an annual tradition conducted by every president since Bush, Biden signed a one-year extension to Proclamation 7463, continuing the “National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks.” This proclamation authorized on September 14, 2001, grants the president broad powers over the organization of the military, enabling him to authorize everything from economic sanctions to drone strikes.

In keeping with the post-9/11 extensions of this state of emergency, no specific causes are provided, and Biden’s statement on the signing merely states that the “terrorist threat continues.”

Proclamation 7463 can be read below.

 

 
 
 

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