For several months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a huge ban-
ner hung over ground zero declaring, ‘‘We Will Never Forget,’’
a sentiment shared by a nation ‘‘unpracticed in the art of remember-
ing,’’ as one insightful reporter pointed out during the first anniversary
of the tragic
That day, as the nation commemorated what many
have proclaimed to be its most traumatic day in history, every official
echoed the familiar refrain that we must never forget the lessons of
September 11, 2001. For a moment it seemed that the nation was finally
committing itself to overcoming the tendency to forget by reflecting
on its cultural and political values and countering the forces that ap-
peared to threaten them. Throughout the country, government offi-
cials remembered the dead in their patriotic speeches, peppered with
claims about the nation’s resilience and its unwavering commitment
to democracy and freedom in the face of terror, while ordinary citi-
zens honored the victims by lighting candles, planting trees, displaying
memorial quilts, and waving American flags. Despite the official rhe-
toric of remembrance and the nation’s televisual pageantry of patrio-
tism, however, the immediate memorialization ironically did as much
to obscure as to preserve the political and cultural values that it ap-
peared to defend. Indeed, less than two months after the tragic events
of 9/11 a nervous Congress had hastily passed the USA Patriot Act,
which dramatically extended the surveillance and investigative power
of federal security agencies such as the fbi, the cia, the Border Patrol,
and the ins, agencies whose power had already been augmented by the
Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001. In an atmosphere of edgy alarm, Con-
gress had spent very little time debating the bill, as it rushed to pro-
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