Today we take some time to remember the dastardly attacks of 9/11…..
The years after the attacks have changed things for all of us…..but not for the better.
Looking back on it now, the 1990s were an age of innocence for America. The Cold War was over and our leaders promised us a “peace dividend.” There was no TSA to make us take off our shoes at airports (how many bombs have they found in those billions of shoes?). The government could not tap a U.S. phone or read private emails without a warrant from a judge. And the national debt was only $5 trillion – compared with over $28 trillion today.
We have been told that the criminal attacks of September 11, 2001 “changed everything.” But what really changed everything was the US government’s disastrous response to them.
That response was not preordained or inevitable, but the result of decisions and choices made by politicians, bureaucrats and generals who fueled and exploited our fears, unleashed wars of reprehensible vengeance and built a secretive security state, all thinly disguised behind Orwellian myths of American greatness.
Most Americans believe in democracy and many regard the United States as a democratic country. But the US response to 9/11 laid bare the extent to which American leaders are willing to manipulate the public into accepting illegal wars, torture, the Guantanamo gulag and sweeping civil rights abuses – activities that undermine the very meaning of democracy.
While the attacks were despicable….they did leave us with a certain legacy….
I am, of course, speaking of the post-9/11 surveillance state.
It started with the infamous and incongruously named PATRIOT Act, enacted just six weeks after the attacks and before any inquiry into how al Qaeda had managed to get past the FBI, CIA and NSA. The new law forced retailers and libraries to tell the FBI what books you’ve read or ordered, your internet service providers (ISPs) to cough up details on your website browsing history, and imposed new financial transaction reporting requirements on your bank or credit union. It was, however, just the public version of digital mass surveillance.
The hidden part of the federal electronic dragnet was NSA’s STELLAR WIND program, which would not come to light until a year after George W. Bush won reelection because the New York Times editorial leadership sat on the story for a year – one of the worst examples of editorial cowardice in the history of American journalism and the antithesis of the Times’ approach to the Pentagon Papers 40 years earlier.
To be fair, NSA hardly has a monopoly on helping create and sustain the new American surveillance state. The Department of Justice has done its part as well.
With all the ‘preventive’ measures in place this type of attack should be a thing that could never happen again…..well that is the spin we get these days….but I have little faith in those types of promises.
It is not the day for pessimism….for that I apologize….but I feel that truth should be told wherever it is necessary and this is one of those times.
So please take some time and remember those that died on that fateful day and afterwards…..they did not deserve the events of that day.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”