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Patrick fends off critics of 9/11 speech

Governor Deval Patrick tried yesterday to fend off criticism he has received over his Sept. 11 memorial service speech, when he said the terrorist attacks six years ago resulted in part from "a failure of human understanding."

"Frankly, I was taught in my church that all violent attack is a failure of human understanding," he said during an appearance on WTKK-FM radio yesterday. "The families, in the time I spent with them that day after the ceremony, were just absolutely lovely and appreciative."

Presiding over the state's memorial ceremonies for the first time, Patrick on Tuesday morning called the events of Sept. 11, 2001, "a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States.

"But it was also about the failure of human beings to understand each other and to learn to love each other," he said. "It seems to me that lesson [of] that morning is something that we must carry with us every day."

State Republican leaders have seized on his comments as implying the terrorist attacks could have been prevented.

Jim Ogonowski, a Republican US House candidate whose brother, John, was the captain of one of the hijacked planes flown into the World Trade Center, said Wednesday that the comments were "completely inappropriate."

When challenged yesterday by radio show callers, Patrick said that his statements were misconstrued for political reasons and that he saw no reason to apologize. "Let me be clear: I don't think America bears any fault for the attack on us in 9/11, and I don't think that any of the family members with whom I spoke that day heard it or saw it that way," Patrick said.

April Simpson of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.

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