September 11 sixteen years later – Terrorists win if terror erodes civil liberties
Fairfax criminal lawyer on the civil liberties implications of fighting terrorism
Virginia criminal lawyer/ Fairfax DWI attorney pursuing your best defense
The September 11, 2001, murders, happened sixteen years ago. Terrorists win of terror is allowed to erode civil liberties. Sadly, that erosion continues.
The September 11 murders were concerted acts of terrorism. Terrorism has been more widespread overseas, but continues in the United States, including with the 2013 Boston marathon bombing and the 2015 San Bernardino attack. Overseas, we see the horrors of ISIS, and bombing attacks in such places as Iraq and various African countries.
What should be done about all this terrorism? The person who has the solution to ending terrorism — without violating civil liberties — wins a Nobel prize. Perhaps terrorism is an inevitable result of the end of the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union, and the power vacuum that resulted from removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
Clearly, the United States government’s rapid drafting and passage of the civil-liberties-violating PATRIOT Act, CIA-supported renditions, and creation of the Homeland Security Department were in the makings long before September 11. September 11 became the justification for national security hawks to expand and more deeply entrench our already overgrown national security state.
George W. Bush was president on September 11, 2001, and he was not about to temper anti-terrorism activities with civil liberties protection. When president, Barack Obama strongly supported the expanded national security state. Donald Trump is no friend of civil liberties, and he is not going to reverse the overgrown national security state. Consequently, when the next president takes office in January 2021, that will be in the context of over nineteen years of the constant expansion and deepening of our national security state, which will then be all the more difficult to reverse.
Would a president Hillary Clinton have reversed the overgrowth of the national security state? Probably not, other than possibly to work for protections against mistreatment of non-United States citizen residents of the nation. She likely would have been more of a war hawk than Trump, although with less of a loose-cannon mentality and mouth.
Would a president Bernie Sanders have reversed the overgrown national security state? Possibly more than Donald Trump or a president Hillary Clinton, but by how much, especially if Congress would not go along?
To give an idea of how deeply entrenched is the national security state, a federal prosecutor in 2006 pointed out to me how much more federal prosecutorial resources are available against terrorism prosecutions than my federal felony criminal case. He also enunciated his realization that his own South Asian ethnicity put him in a universe of Americans subject to heightened government scrutiny. We are talking here about a federal prosecutor.
Civil liberties and human rights can indeed be protected while fighting terrorism. It takes great effort, but that effort is worthwhile and essential.