Feuding and mourning mark the day

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The Independent US

The deadliest ever foreign attack on America has been pushed into the shadows by mother nature's catastrophic attack on the Gulf Coast. The death toll and cost there will surely exceed the 3,000 casualties and $30bn (£16bn) bill of 11 September 2001. Some who have watched the showboating and politics in New York - and the latest bureaucratic blame game in Washington - believe that is just as well.

Four years on, the place where the World Trade Center stood is a hole in the ground, 60 feet deep and covering six city blocks, at which tourists come to gawp. All that has been rebuilt is the subway station, the only visible functioning structure on the site.

As for what, if anything, will go up where the Twin Towers stood: Daniel Libeskind, the architect of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, won the original redesign contest organised by George Pataki, the Governor of New York. But his idea of a slender, spiralling "Freedom Tower" exactly 1,776 feet tall (as in the date of US independence) has effectively been dumped. Critics said it was too vulnerable to attack. The latest favoured replacement would for its first dozen storeys look like a concrete pillbox.

In New York, the day itself will be marked in the now familiar fashion: four silences through the morning to mark when each plane crashed, followed by a reading of the names of the 2,749 who died, this year by their siblings.

In Washington, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary, has announced a "Freedom Walk" from where Flight AA77 smashed into the Pentagon to the Mall, past the monuments to America's various foreign wars.

The plan has been denounced by liberals as propaganda which aims to suggest a phony link between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.

Meanwhile, argument continues about whether the US could have prevented the attack. Several past and present military officials have confirmed that a secret anti-terrorist unit, code-named "Able Danger", had identified Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers, as a member of a suspected al-Qa'ida cell, in summer 2000. Why, the question is again being asked, was this information not acted on, or passed to the FBI and other agencies?

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