September 10, 2007

Who we are 6 years after 9-11

I am not sure who we are any longer. The Bush/Cheney response, as far as I can tell, has exploited the legitimate fear and horror of 9-11 to build their own power. In the face of a real and credible threat of Al Qaeda, we have subverteed our own justice system and undermined our basic constitutional protections.

This morning on NPR, I listened to a story on the Lackawanna Six--or the supposed success story at stopping a home-grown terrorist attack. The author of a new book discussed her contention that these men were not the threats that the government suggested. In an op-ed, she talks about the role that our President and VP played in their arrest:
"And that might well have happened had someone in the Lackawanna Muslim community not sent an anonymous letter to the FBI’s Buffalo field office. The Lackawanna Six were arrested within days of the first anniversary of 9/11. Both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney personally told FBI Director Robert Mueller to bring them in. Absent any special reason to arrest them or any action that indicated that they were particularly threatening, it’s difficult not to see the timing as political. A year after the attacks, the Bush administration needed a win, and the Lackawanna Six’s story seemed to give them one. "
In her NPR story, she said that Cheney pressed Mueller to give a "100% guarantee that these men would not do anything" to which, of course, Mueller could not. Bush and Cheney said, "then arrest them." Steve Inskeep and the author (Dina Temple-Raston) suggest this is the first of many examples of "pre-emptive justice."

In her op-ed, she suggests rethinking this:
Perhaps we are far enough away from 9/11 now to see that the United States is best served when we hold ourselves to the highest standards of fairness and inclusiveness. Selectively abandoning civil liberties and due process to wage the war on terrorism only plays into bin Laden’s hands. Al-Qaida succeeds at changing America simply by threatening it.
We can't control them very well, but we do have great control over who we are. And taking away our own civil rights and subverting our very constitutional protections is playing right into their hands.

1 comment:

JMG said...

I listened to that story yesterday and was struck by Bush and Cheney's insistence in a guarantee that the six were no threat. I always thought that arresting people for what they might do was something that only happened in the movies.

The term "home-grown terrorist" is being thrown about more and more frequently these days. It seems that we are all suspects at risk for arrest at any time.