US President George W. Bush and his wife Laura have been leading tributes to those killed in the September 11 terror attacks, five years ago today. Bush is visiting the sites where nearly 3,000 people were killed by suicide hijackers, starting with Ground Zero where the World Trade Center once stood. But, as a solemn wreath-laying ceremony there unfolded, crowds of protesters gathered nearby – denouncing the US presence in Iraq and calling for its troops to be brought home.
“I believe our response invading Iraq, occupying Iraq, killing Americans and Iraqis was very, very wrong – the wrong response,” said one woman. “It is time for the troops to come home – now, immediately. It is an occupation now. There is not a war going on. It is an occupation,” added another.
At the Pentagon, beams of light were projected in memory of those killed when a hijacked plane ploughed into the building. Today’s commemorations come as the president pushes his national security credentials ahead of mid-term elections. But, five years after the attacks, his administration’s failure to catch al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden means many Americans still feel far from safe.