New terrorism fears infuse 9/11 anniversary: The Note

Fencing will go back up around the Capitol amid domestic terror worries.

September 10, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The sad symmetry extends to both the symbolism and the substance.

As the nation pauses to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the worst terrorist act in the nation's history, worries about domestic terror have led to the decision for fencing to go back up outside the Capitol -- a building that the 9/11 hijackers did not ultimately attack.

It took an attempted domestic insurrection to fully expose the Capitol's vulnerabilities just eight months ago. A rally planned for eight days from now has renewed fears of violence, with right-wing organizers putting together a protest to support those who were arrested Jan. 6.

Perceptions of the 9/11 anniversary appear to have been altered by President Joe Biden's decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan at the end of August. Just 49% of Americans see the nation as more secure against terrorism than it was before Sept. 11, 2001 -- near the low point in ABC News/Washington Post polling going back two decades.

Against that backdrop, it's striking how quickly fears of domestic terrorism have blossomed. FBI Director Christopher Wray's op-ed warns that dangers of "online radicalization" that were remote 20 years ago are more relevant than ever -- and that "an expanding array of radical beliefs is increasingly inspiring domestic terrorists."

PHOTO: A law enforcement officer walks with a k-9 dog near 9/11 Memorial before memorial observances held at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 9, 2021.
A law enforcement officer walks with a k-9 dog near 9/11 Memorial before memorial observances held at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 9, 2021.
Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Wray also points out that, after the 9/11 attacks, "the country united behind a common purpose" -- cooperation and coordination that helped thwart future attacks, in his judgment.

There will be reminders of that unity through this weekend, as the nation remembers Sept. 11. They will almost certainly be distant memories by next weekend, when protesters bring up memories of Jan. 6.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Since the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act -- the most restrictive abortion law in the nation -- Biden administration officials were exploring its options to combat the legislation. With the Department of Justice's announcement of a lawsuit against the Lone Star State, we're seeing the results of that exploration.

The DOJ is citing the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which essentially says that federal law trumps state law. The lawsuit argues that Texas' law, which bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, prevents federal agencies from providing abortion care until the point of fetal viability which is guaranteed by Roe. v. Wade.

"That act is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent," Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference. "Those precedents hold, in the words of Planned Parenthood versus Casey, that 'regardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.'"

PHOTO: Attorney General Merrick Garland announces a lawsuit to block the enforcement of new Texas law that bans most abortions at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2021.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announces a lawsuit to block the enforcement of new Texas law that bans most abortions at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2021.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Garland dubbed the law a "statutory scheme" and an attempt to "nullify the Constitution," referring to the way the law was designed to evade legal challenge. It deputizes private citizens to file suit and enforce this law.

A spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he's confident the court would uphold the law.

While a ruling on the case could take months, the Justice Department made two moves that could have an impact in the short-term. The DOJ is seeking a court order to stop the enforcement of the law and, on Thursday, Garland threatened legal action against any state that passes copycat legislation.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The last stretch of campaigning ahead of next Tuesday's recall election date is in full swing -- culminating with Biden rallying alongside California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday. The high-profile leadup to the second recall ever in state history has Democrats feeling optimistic, but aware of possible shortcomings.

"From the beginning of this process, we all believed that we didn't really have a persuasion issue, we had an awareness issue," a member of Newsom's campaign told reporters Thursday, indicating that Republican voters initially had a greater awareness about the recall election than Democrats.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks against the recall election during a rally on Sept. 8, 2021, in San Leandro, California.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks against the recall election during a rally on Sept. 8, 2021, in San Leandro, California.
Noah Berger/AP

As reported by ABC News' Zohreen Shah and KGO's Liz Kreutz, Newsom's team appears confident that the Democratic governor won't lose his seat to one of the 45 challengers hoping to replace him. Newsom's campaign also predicts that like election night 2020, it's possible Californians will see a red wave on Election Day before the Democratic early votes are fully tabulated to put the governor in the clear.

Still, Newsom's staff deflected when asked by Kreutz what a "win" for them looks like, but were deliberate in highlighting that this race would serve as the preface to future contests.

"This really is a window into Democrats getting fired up and the opportunity that Democrats have nationally as we head into the midterms," a campaign staffer said.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Friday morning's episode starts off with ABC News Chief Investigative Reporter Josh Margolin and a look back at how the U.S. has changed since the Sept. 11 attacks. Then, ABC News Deputy Political Director Averi Harper explains how the Biden administration is fighting Texas' new abortion ban. And, a Los Angeles teacher talks about the debate over mandating vaccines for eligible public school children.

FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast. U.S. politics have changed a lot in the 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which defined a generation of American life. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, University of California, Riverside, political science professor Jennifer Merolla and Pew Research Center research associate Hannah Hartig reflect on the political climate in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 attacks and discuss whether a similar consensus is possible in America's current political environment. In the second segment of the podcast, CalMatters politics reporter Laurel Rosenhall and political analyst Paul Mitchell join to talk about California's gubernatorial recall election.


ABC News' "9/11/ Twenty Years Later: America Remembers" is a special week of coverage across the network and streaming news channel ABC News Live to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including four reflective primetime specials and a five-part documentary series, "9/11 + 20: The Longest Shadow." ABC's "20/20" presents two specials on Friday. Anchor David Muir reports on how the day's tragic events forever changed the world, interviewing survivors and family members who lost loved ones in the attacks. In the following hour, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer brings together nearly 40 families together again -- forever bonded by a national tragedy. On Saturday, a special edition of ABC's "Good Morning America" will air and lead into ABC News' special live coverage featuring ceremonies in lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.


  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., appears on ABC's "The View."
  • President Joe Biden receives the president's daily brief at 9 a.m. The president, first lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visit a school in Washington and deliver remarks about keeping students safe in the classrooms at 10:20 a.m.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris travels to Hampton, Virginia, to tour the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at Hampton University at 11:30 a.m. She holds a roundtable discussion at 12:05 p.m. with students at the university as part of the U.S. Department of Education's National HBCU Week.
  • The White House COVID-19 Response Team and public health officials hold a briefing at 11:30 a.m.
  • The House Financial Services Committee meets at noon to review reforms to expedite emergency rental assistance.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing at 1 p.m.
  • Former President Donald Trump signed a contract to provide commentary on a "gamecast" of Saturday's boxing event headlined by Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort. Donald Trump Jr. will join him at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
  • Sunday on ABC's "This Week": The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses all the week's politics with former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, Democracy for America CEO and ABC News Contributor Yvette Simpson, Dispatch Staff Writer and ABC News Contributor Sarah Isgur and #RolandMartinUnfiltered Host and Managing Editor Roland Martin.
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