The New York City Police Department said Wednesday that it had turned down a request by Iran to allow its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to visit ground zero and lay a wreath. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at first said the city would consider allowing Ahmadinejad to near the former site of the World Trade Center when he comes to address the United Nations next week, but his spokesman later said security concerns would make the visit impossible.
Politicians were quick to urge the city to keep Ahmadinejad away. “It’s unacceptable,” said Sen. Hillary Clinton. “This is a matter for the City of New York,” said Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, “but ground zero would be an odd place for the president of a country that is a state sponsor of terror to visit.”
Give Ahmadinejad “credit for chutzpah,” said Steve Emerson in the New York Post. “In other words, a request to visit the site of the worst terrorist attack in history—from a guy who's involved in terrorism up to his neck.” And the man is a Holocaust-denier in the bargain. Letting him go near the site of the deadliest of the 9/11 attacks would be “an obscene slap at the victims,” and even the request is “an insult of the worst kind.”
The U.S. is at war with Iran—although for now it’s just a “war of words,” said Tom Engelhardt on TheNation.com. But that could change. “The President has indicated, more than once, that he would not hand the Iranian nuclear situation over to his successor unresolved.” The White House already reportedly has approved covert actions inside Iran to destabilize the government, and Iran is meddling in Iraq to secure power for its fellow Shiites there. Add it all up, and “the American-Iranian relationship” is the “potential crucible of disaster for the planet.”
Don’t hide in a cave just yet, said Steven Clemons in Salon.com. “Despite holding out a military option, ratcheting up tensions with Iran about meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deploying carrier strike-force groups in the Persian Gulf, the president is not planning to bomb Iran.” Going to war with Tehran would disrupt our oil supply horribly, and could send Sunni Arab states falling like “a set of dominoes” and “remake the map of the Middle East—and not in America's favor.”