May 02, 2011 Will Bin Laden’s death at all reverse the civil liberties violations suffered in the name of September 11?
The problem about violence is that it is violent and begets more violence. I have been unable to reconcile war with my opposition to capital punishment. Killings in war involve much less due process and carefulness than the barbaric system of capital punishment lacks.
I am not a full pacifist, but I do not yet know of one person’s death that merits rejoicing over.
I would not have opposed anybody’s killing Hitler while he was in power, although my peace mentor Jun Yasuda would have taken a different approach, of course. Whether or not Osama Bin Laden rose to the same level as Hitler in meriting being killed, this was not a pinpoint-precise killing, as others were killed (and wounded, I expect, whether or not Bin Laden used any of them as human shields). How many deaths and woundings are justified in order to kill or capture a targeted person?
American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq have repeatedly killed civilians through accidents and otherwise. Unconvincing are claims that civilian casualties are a part of war, particularly here where many such casualties were easily avoidable.
This war on terrorism has heavily wounded the Bill of Rights and civil liberties, possibly making the 1950’s McCarthy witch hunts child’s play on the Constitution by comparison. In the name of the war on terrorism, racial, ethnic, and religious profiling run rampant with FBI investigations, airplane passenger watch lists, and airline participation in the profiling. Heightened searches and surveillance take place in airports at subway stations, and through warrantless searches. People get arrested for photographing train tracks and government buildings. Guantanamo holds many who will not get even a trial.
Bigotry towards Muslims has risen and intensified following the September 11 murders. We all must stand up against it.
Soon after the September 11 murders, the following Trial Lawyers College magazine focused on the attacks, and published my article warning against letting the murders be an excuse to suspend civil liberties. I concluded: "We are at a critical crossroads where we all must struggle to maintain and enhance justice and human rights during the heightened national security and military actions and hysteria that will take place. We will pay a high price if we do otherwise."
Bin Laden’s killing will not end terrorism, even though it might be a big step towards reducing it. Living and working just a few miles from the nation’s capital, I likely will avoid the subway system for at least the next few days, just as I did after Bush II started Gulf War II, unsure if terrorists will target the subway system subsequent to Bin Laden’s killing.
The September 11 murders were horrific. Such horrors, though, must not eclipse the protection of civil liberties and substantial military restraint. Everyone must stand up for civil liberties protection, even at the risk of being called soft on terrorism or insensitive to the victims of terrorism.