Ten years ago four teams of hijackers walked past security at major airports and hijacked four aircraft. They crashed two of them into the Twin Towers, one into the Pentagon, and one that was intended for the Capital building went down in the Pennsylvania countryside. Thousands of innocent Americans lost their lives that day. 34% of Americans say that the events of 9/11/01 directly affected their family or their friends. It was a massive attack.
On that day watching the events on TV as the Towers were hit, first one, then the other, and shortly after seeing them both fall to the ground, the roiling clouds of toxic dust advancing through the streets, people scrambling to get out of its path, bodies falling or jumping from the Towers, and the horror set in, the fear, questioning how anyone could hate America so much that they would take the lives of so many innocent people and be willing to give their lives in the process.
And I wept.
As the days and weeks wore on, and the recovery efforts continued, I knew that our country would never be the same. Things were about to change.
And so they have.
We’ve orchestrated two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan that have contributed trillions to our national debt, with no clear goal or exit strategy. We are now in Libya, running up the debt even more, without Congressional approval, without a clear agenda or exit strategy. We’ve seen the Middle East literally blow up. No one yet knows how these events will affect us. But I believe we better be careful whose side we take in these volatile countries. There have been reports that the very terrorists who want us dead and are killing our Military personnel are now reaping the rewards of American tax dollars flowing into their countries due to fraud and corruption. They are, after all, rebels, ousting ruthless dictators. But what happens if the “rebel” label has “terrorist” after it? We don’t know who any of them are. Remember, the terrorists that murdered Americans 10 years ago were mostly from Saudi Arabia, young men from middle income families, with an absolute hatred of the West and America in particular.
The events of 9/11 are responsible for the enactment of the USA Patriot Act and subsequent presidential “executive orders,” directives and regulations that greatly infringe upon freedoms that were once guaranteed to Americans. Yet many of us don’t realize the scope of what we have lost. Here are just some of the things we’ve given up, like sheep being led to the slaughter.
1st Amendment Freedom of Speech: The PA broadly expands the definition of terrorism. Many domestic groups that engage in nonviolent civil disobedience can now be targeted as terrorists. It has also become a crime for librarians or keepers of records to try to safeguard your privacy or tell you that you are under investigation. If the Government comes calling, the record keepers have to release information they may have on you, and they cannot tell you that Uncle Sam asked for it.
1st Amendment Freedom of Association: Religious and political groups can now be monitored and infiltrated, aptly called “domestic spying,” even though they have done nothing suspicious or criminal. The government can investigate you simply for being a member of a group the government doesn’t like.
1st Amendment Right to Access Government Information: The US DOJ has directed federal, state and local officials to limit access to government records requested through the Freedom of Information Act.
4th Amendment Freedom From Unreasonable Searches & Seizures: Authorities have the right to conduct secret wiretaps and searches in your home or office without showing “probable cause.” They can track your phone calls, credit card transactions, cell phone calls, text msgs, where you go on the Internet, of every American, just by claiming they have “a significant purpose” for doing so. They don’t have to state the purpose. Authorities can now demand your personal records held by your doctors, employer, accountant or library. They only need to say it pertains to “terrorism.”
5th Amendment Right to Due Process: Americans can now be jailed without a formal charge and without the right to confront witnesses or evidence against them. All in the name of “terrorism.”
6th Amendment Right to Legal Representation: Hundreds of U. S. residents have been detained for months at a time being denied access to an attorney. Officials can now monitor conversations between attorneys and clients in federal jails.
6th Amendment Right to a Speedy Trial: U.S. Government can now jail Americans indefinitely without charge or public trial.
In the last year Obama issued an order that it’s okay to kill American citizens residing in foreign countries who are suspected of terrorism. No trial, no innocent until proven guilty, no rights of any kind, not even residency at Gitmo. Just poof, and they are eliminated. The key words here are “American Citizen.” Non-citizens are not afforded rights to our legal system or our Constitution. But Americans are protected by our Constitution. Yes, Obama has issued this order. But Bush was responsible for the Patriot Act which gave subsequent administrations unbridled power. Let's not lay all of the blame in one place.
And then there are the surveillance cameras in so many public places. And body scans, groping, remove your shoes, remove your belts, practically remove your clothes, at airports, and you better not pack anything liquid in your carry-on luggage. It will be confiscated.
So yes, 9/11 and the fanatical perpetrators are directly responsible for great curtailment of our civil liberties. And we’ve quietly let the Government do it in the name of “security.” Today, as I watched the memorial services in Pennsylvania, at the Twin Towers and at the Pentagon, I was reminded of all that we have lost.
And I wept.
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