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Editorial: President voiced metro area's nuclear fears

One World Trade Center, center, is seen from

One World Trade Center, center, is seen from the 56th floor of its neighbor, 4 World Trade Center on Nov. 7, 2013 in New York. The 1,776-foot One World Trade Center is the marquee skyscraper at ground zero; but the first office tower to open there will be its shorter neighbor 4 World Trade Center on Nov. 13. Credit: AP

President Barack Obama stands guilty of committing the ultimate diplomatic sin. Instead of fuzzing up a critical issue in the coded language of global shadowboxing, he blurted out a blunt and unsettling truth. He said he's far more worried about the detonation of a nuclear weapon in Manhattan than he is about Russia's invasion of Crimea. Well, so are we.

While the president offered his remarks offhandedly, they articulate a gnawing worry of many New Yorkers. We want a region that's open and graceful and fun. We don't want to live in the relentless shadow of terror. We refuse to be fixated on dangers that could cripple us.

Yet we also want a region decisively fortified against a horrific form of mass destruction once considered unthinkable.

While Washington and City Hall have done right by us in recent years, we're glad Obama has New Yorkers in mind. And if he uttered an unspoken taboo that weighs heavily in the thoughts of many of us -- so what? The world is a dangerous place.

The wonder is that the city at the heart of our region moves on with such irrepressible vibrancy in the wake of 9/11. While the twitterati Wednesday debated the wisdom of Obama's remarks, a jury of everyday New Yorkers convicted Sulaiman abu Ghaith -- a top adviser to Osama bin Laden -- just blocks from Ground Zero. The verdict sets exactly the right tone.

We must continue to exact justice for bin Laden's crimes in the communities where they took place. We must continue to rebuild lower Manhattan -- to erase the physical scars of 9/11 and to show we're moving forward with confidence, optimism and panache.

Security is always a primary issue, as the recent outrageous breaches at 1 World Trade Center remind us. But we must stay on our toes without losing our poise. And we should never worry about speaking the truth. The president got it exactly right.