News & Politics

Inside Ted Cruz's Reaction to 9/11: Prayer and Patriotism

President Obama’s reactions to ISIS attacks have become predictable and thin. His words seem to lack an appreciation of the grave conflict underway. Obama’s language betrays his adherence to progressive dogma: that the horrific assaults against the West are a nuisance to be managed, minimized, and explained through a value-free deconstruction of history where America sometimes stokes grievances across the Middle East.

Although the role and responsibilities of a young government lawyer named Ted Cruz are very different from a sitting president, the accounts of how Cruz responded to the attacks of September 11, 2001 provide some insight into who he is and his priorities.

While working as an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission that day, Ted Cruz invited dozens of FTC staffers and coworkers to gather at his apartment to pray and sing patriotic songs. PJ Media spoke with multiple FTC employees who received Cruz’s invitation and went to his home. Below, they describe what occurred at his apartment and Cruz’s role with his FTC coworkers in the weeks following 9/11.

In the aftermath of Paris, Obama framed the ISIS assault as an attack on the values of the French Revolution:

Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress.  Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong.  The American people draw strength from the French people’s commitment to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.  We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share.

Nowhere in Obama’s statement can one find a struggle between good and evil. Nowhere is America’s role in this struggle mentioned. Instead, the jihadists with Kalashnikovs at the Bataclan and boulevard Voltaire were firing bullets at “human progress,” at that bright future that is salvation in progressive theology. To Obama, actual theology is rarely mentioned after these sorts of attacks, and if it is, only belatedly and heretically.

Obama speaks of ISIS the same way Eliot Ness would speak of Al Capone.

After Paris, Obama sounded like he did after San Bernardino. Some things are always missing:

I’m sure that in the days ahead we’ll learn more about exactly what happened, and my teams will make sure that we are in communication with the press to provide you accurate information. I don’t want to speculate at this point in terms of who was responsible for this.

While nearly all of America was certain, Obama didn’t want to speculate. For most Americans, a timeless theology animates the reaction and response to jihadist terror, while the “timeless values of human progress” guide this president.

On September 11, 2001, a man who may succeed Obama as president was guided by different values. After the attacks, Ted Cruz sent several dozen FTC coworkers an email from his government email address. It was not the sort of email that usually is sent in offices inside the Beltway culture. It certainly was not the sort of email normally sent in federal government offices.

According to multiple people who received the email and spoke with PJ Media, Cruz and his wife Heidi invited coworkers to their Virginia apartment in Pentagon City “to read the Bible, pray and sing patriotic songs.”

While such an email in those circumstances might be perfectly appropriate to many Americans, inside the strongly secularized culture of Washington, D.C., broadly distributed invitations to pray in one’s home are an outlier, particularly invitations sent to federal government coworkers. In a federal government culture where Christians are sometimes ridiculed and harassed, Cruz was pushing the envelope.

As one person who worked at the FTC who received the email told PJ Media:

In a sophisticated and jaded town, Ted and Heidi were putting themselves out there in a place that views that stuff as hokey. That showed a lot of thoughtfulness and courage on their part.

Another FTC employee who attended the gathering at Ted Cruz’s apartment described the scene. A small group of coworkers gathered at his Virginia apartment. Cruz spoke that night of Psalm 23. Another attendee who spoke with PJ Media remembers Cruz reading the psalm aloud:

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

The attendee said Cruz emphasized the word “through” in the psalm, and that Cruz said “the most important part of the psalm is that one can emerge from the valley of the shadow of death.” The attendees noted that Cruz’s apartment was in the shadow of the still-burning Pentagon, and his words, and the gathering itself, had special importance to all involved:

He stressed we were going to get out of the valley, that we all have challenges and there is a way through them.

Others who worked at the FTC described Cruz’s role back at the office in the days following 9/11. Recall that many FTC employees were victims of the subsequent anthrax scare:

Ted would walk up and down the halls and check on people to see how they were doing. He would hand out small American flags to employees and was the most proactive of all the senior staff in checking on people’s welfare.

In discussions with Cruz after 9/11, it was obvious he didn’t view what had occurred as a law enforcement matter, or a result of America’s chickens coming home to roost. Coworkers report he characterized the events as a “clash of visions.”

Naturally, a president has very different challenges and restraints when speaking about jihadist terror. A young lawyer does not face the same circumstances. But the reaction of Ted Cruz to the attacks of 9/11, and what he said and did many years before he was in the political spotlight, may reveal where he places his faith and how he views the nature of the fight.