September 11 fifteen years later
Distance-wise, the September 11, 2001, murders hit me close to home. I was only ten miles from the Pentagon at the time, and had visited a prosecutor there only two years earlier. For a year before law school, I worked four blocks and lived two miles from the World Trade Center, whose elevators I had ridden.
Before September 11, I did not realize that America’s military defense was not already equipped to well prevent such airplane attacks. The hijacking and subsequent attacks of the three planes were cold-blooded murder.
How to respond to the September 11 murders? I reject the conspiracy theorists who believe the George Bush II administration wanted the attack to take place, to justify instituting sweeping measures against terrorism. I do, though, figure that George Bush II’s administration had already established detailed plans for such measures in the event of an attack of such a scale as the September 11 murders. The Bush administration wasted no time in proposing a governmental national security overhaul with the then-new Department of Homeland Security as an administration centerpiece, and introducing the so-called PATRIOT Act, which few Congress members were ready to oppose, despite all its civil liberties-violating provisions.
After the September 11 murders, the Bush II administration — followed by the Obama administration — unleashed unprecedented domestic spying, international military strikes, international apprehensions and renditions, and terrorism prosecutions, all in the name of preventing and combating terrorism, and at great expense to domestic civil liberties and international human rights, while consolidating excessive power in the United States presidency.
George Bush II justified the American military’s post-September 11 invasion of Afghanistan as part of the war on terrorism, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a way to contain Saddam Hussein from using weapons that it turned out he did not have. As one national security military member told me, the United States is not good at regime change, as evidenced by the ISIL horror that spread into Iraq after the American military withdrew from fighting there.
And now, for the 2016 presidential race, we have the hawkish Hillary Clinton running against the possibly less hawkish Donald Trump (who touts walling-out Mexicans and curtailing entry for Muslims), neither of whom says much about protecting civil liberties, with Donald Trump more likely than Hillary Clinton to severely damage civil liberties as president.
Fifteen years after September 11, we know that the world is in many ways a much more dangerous place for Americans than when the Soviet Union still existed and was the major military threat against the United States. We cannot wait any longer to reverse all the civil liberties and human rights violations that have been perpetrated by the United States government post-September 11 in the name of fighting terrorism.