- The commemorative ceremonies that are planned for
the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 massacre are those of pathos for the victims
and their families, of praise for both the pursuit of the supporters of
the attackers and the performance of first responders and our soldiers
- Flags and martial music will punctuate the combined
atmosphere of sorrow and aggressive defiance to those terrorists who would
threaten us. These events will be moments of respectful silence and some
expressions of rage and ferocity.
- But many Americans might also want to pause to
recognize - or unlearn - those reactions and overreactions to 9/11 that
have harmed our country. How, in this forward-looking manner, can we respect
the day of 9/11?
- Here are some suggestions:
- 1. Do not exaggerate our adversaries' strength
in order to produce a climate of hysteria that results in repression of
civil liberties, embodied in the overwrought USA Patriot Act, and immense
long-term damage to our economy. Consider the massive diversion of trillions
of dollars from domestic civilian needs because of the huge expansion and
misspending in military and security budgets.
- 2. Do not allow our leaders to lie and exaggerate
as when they told us there were funded, suicidal and hateful al-Qaeda cells
all over our country. They were never here. Actually, the wholesale invasions
of Iraq and Afghanistan became recruiting grounds for more al-Qaeda branches
there and in other countries - a fact acknowledged by both then-Army Chief
of Staff George Casey and then-CIA Director Porter Goss.
- 3. Do not create a climate of fear or monopolize
a partisan definition of patriotism in order to silence dissent from other
political parties, the citizenry or the unfairly arrested or harassed.
- 4. Do not tolerate presidents who violate our Constitution
and start wars without congressional deliberation and a declaration of
war (article 1, section 8, clause 11). Do not let them disobey federal
statutes and international treaties in pursuing unlawful, misdirected quicksand
wars, as in Iraq, that produce deaths, destruction and debts that undermine
our country's national interests.
- 5. Do not have Congress write a blank check, outside
the normal Appropriations Committee hearing process, for the huge budgetary
demands from the executive branch for funding of the Iraq, Afghan-Pakistan
and other undeclared wars.
- 6. Do not allow the executive branch to engage
in unconstitutional and illegal recurrent practices such as wiretapping
and other methods of surveillance of Americans without judicial approval,
in addition to arrests without charges, indefinite imprisonment, torture
and denial of habeas corpus and other due process rights established by
our Founding Fathers. Congress has passed no reforms to check the continuing
exercise of unchecked dictatorial presidential power.
- 7. Do not let the government hide the horrors of
war from the people by prohibiting photographs of U.S. casualties; operating
cruel, secret prisons; harassing reporters; and refusing to count civilian
casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is too much intimidation
of returning soldiers - so many harmed for life - from telling the people
what they experienced and think about these wars and their heavy outsourcing
to profiteering corporations.
- 8. Do not allow leaders to violate American principles
with torture or other war crimes prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.
Nor should top military brass or members of the executive branch be above
our laws and escape accountability.
- 9. Do not allow your Congress to abdicate or transfer
its own constitutional authorities to the president. We the people have
not exercised our civic duties enough to make our representatives in Congress
fulfill their obligations under the Constitution to decide whether we go
to war and act as a watchdog of the president's conduct. The Libyan war
was decided and funded by President Obama without congressional approval.
- 10. Call out those in the news media who become
a mouthpiece of the president and his departments involved in these hostilities.
What more is the military really doing in Libya, Somali and Yemen as compared
with the official line? Under what legal authority?
- In addition, demand that news media outlets seek the
inconvenient facts, wherever they might lead, unlike the pre-Iraq invasion
- The celebrated American theologian-philosopher Reinhold
Niebuhr aptly wrote decades ago that "to the end of history, social
orders will probably destroy themselves in the effort to prove that they
- All empires eventually eat away at their own and devour
- - Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author
of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. He is encouraging people around the
country to gather in their own towns or cities on Sept. 10 to discuss ways
to avoid overreactions to threats. Visit: <http://www.nader.org>www.nader.org.