- Last September, marking the 9/11 tenth anniversary, the
ACLU published a report titled, A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties
Ten Years After 9/11."
- Who then could have imagined America engaged in:
- out-of-control imperial lawlessness;
- torture as official policy;
- extraordinary renditions;
- targeted killings;
- warrantless searches;
- other privacy invasions;
- falsified national security concerns;
- war on terror fear-mongering;
- military commission trials, including for US citizens;
- domestic military force deployments;
- secret FEMA concentration camps;
- pervasive homeland surveillance;
- racial profiling and persecution for political advantage;
- militarizing local police;
- indefinitely detaining US citizens in military prisons
on spurious terrorist connection allegations; and
- turning America into a full-blown police state.
- Political discourse is now "driven in part by a
wholly contrived 'debate' over whether" fabricated terror threats
require "military" or "law enforcement" responses.
- Advocates for the former call it muscular and the latter
anemic and irresponsible. In fact, post-9/11 policy hyped bogus terrorist
threats and degraded rule of law protections for everyone.
- Unjustifiably claiming war powers, Bush II usurped unchecked
authority, ignored constitutional prohibitions, and subverted rule of law
standards and justice.
- Near the end of the Cold War, former Supreme Court Justice
William Brennan commented on "the shabby treatment civil liberties
have received in the United States during time of war and perceived threats
to its national security."
- When each crisis passed, hindsight "remorsefully
realized that the abrogation of civil liberties was unnecessary."
Ten years post-9/11, political Washington hasn't yet crossed that threshold.
- In today's climate of fear, conflict resolution "is
a distinct abstraction, not an actual event." Bipartisan leaders claim
today's conflicts "take place everywhere and last forever." As
a result, what chance have freedom and justice?
- ACLU's report examines America's permanent war policy,
the ramifications of militarizing counterterrorism, degrading equity and
justice, embracing torture as official policy, racially profiling Americans,
expanding a vast surveillance state, and entirely eroding democracy. As
a result, freedom hangs by a thread.
- Permanent War
- On September 18, 2001, a joint House-Senate Authorization
for Use of Military Force (AUMF) approved "the use of United States
Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks against the
- A decade of war followed. On May 26, 2011, the House
gave Obama and all future presidents more war authority than Bush by permitting
conflicts anywhere for any reason or none at all.
- In fact, Obama doesn't need it. He already wages war
on humanity abroad and at home in violation of international law and constitutional
provisions and protections.
- As a result, permanent war is policy. Nations are ravaged
one at a time for wealth, power, and unchallengeable dominance.
- Spurious existential threats are claimed. Fundamental
values are discarded, including due process, habeas, equity, and justice,
as well as other inviolable international and US law.
- Illegal wars, targeted assassinations, other lawless
killing, unconstitutional military tribunals, torture, and indefinite military
detentions replaced them.
- From inception, Guantanamo "was a laboratory for
unlawful military interrogation, detention, and trials." All US torture
prisons symbolize imperial lawlessness.
- Candidate Obama said Bush officials "compromised
our most precious values." As president, he exceeded the worst of
his predecessor. Rule of law principles no longer apply. Freedom hangs
by a thread. Anyone considered threatening is guilty by accusation. So
are nations earmarked for regime change.
- "No national security policy raises a graver threat
to human rights," international law, and peace, "than targeted
killing, because the government claims the unchecked authority to impose
an extrajudicial death sentence on" anyone anywhere for any reason
or none at all.
- Bush officials initiated target killings. Obama expanded
them exponentially. Secret "kill lists" were compiled. Legal
criteria aren't disclosed. None, in fact, exist. People are spuriously
called terrorists. Lethal force is policy. So is unchecked militarization
and war on humanity.
- Claiming national security concerns, in fact, undermines
it. Pursuing permanent war and targeted killings subvert fundamental democratic
values. Today they hang by a thread.
- Undermining Rule of Law Principles
- Post-9/11, Dick Cheney announced "us(ing) any means
at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective(s)." War, mass
killing, illegal detentions, torture, and cold-blooded murder followed.
- So did total abandonment of international and US law.
Promising a new course, Obama exceeded the worst Bush policies.
- "How could this have happened in America? The answer....involves
secrets and lies, moral cowardice and legal sophistry."
- "Dark side" lawlessness was instituted. Prisoner
abuse depravity became policy. Torture prisons proliferated. Guantanamo
is one of many. Innocent victims are called "bad apples" or "ticking
time bombs." Public debate is absent. So are legal considerations,
morality, and other right and wrong issues.
- Conspiracy is invented to "create an impenetrable
circle of impunity." Everyone involved is culpable, but no one's accountable.
Congress, the administration and courts share blame. So do media scoundrels
through silence, misreporting, or supporting lawless policies.
- "Today, we have a state of affairs" that shames
the nation. No victim of America's torture policy had his or her day in
court. "And not a single court" handling torture suits "addressed
the core question of whether the victims' legal rights were violated."
- Under Obama's indefinite detention law, everyone's at
risk. Dark side justice threatens them. Congress overwhelmingly agrees.
Criminal accountability no longer matters. Neither do constitution rights,
including Fifth Amendment protections, stating no one shall "be deprived
of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
- Post-9/11, America had a choice. It embraced lawlessness,
not rule of law principles and justice.
- Racial Profiling Persecution
- Muslims became public enemy number one. Political extremists
and media scoundrels portray them as barbaric, violent, uncivilized, gun-toting
- They became scapegoated for their faith, ethnicity, and
other reasons or none at all. They're targeted, arrested, convicted on
bogus charges, given long sentences, and incarcerated as political prisoners.
- Washington uses "religious, racial, and national-origin
profiling as one of this nation's primary domestic counter-terrorism tools,
even though experienced intelligence and law-enforcement officials agree
that it is ineffective, inefficient....counter-productive," and lawless.
- Allowing and encouraging fear-mongering divides America
by race, religion, ethnicity, and core values. Obama expanded the worst
Bush administration policies. Muslims are equated with violence. Constitutional
protections were abandoned. More than ever, America's unsafe.
- Unchecked Pervasive Surveillance
- Checks and balances are absent. Police state surveillance
is policy. Warrantless wiretaping and other privacy invasions were instituted.
Whistleblowers are targeted and prosecuted. Freedom's under siege.
- Patriot Act provisions expanded FBI "National Security
Letter (NSL)" use. They secretly demand telecommunications, credit,
and financial information from companies on anyone deemed "relevant"
to ongoing investigations.
- Pre-9/11, NSLs applied only to suspected spies and international
terrorists. Patriot Act law eliminated constraints. Without them, flagrant
abuses followed. Congress went along by abandoning oversight authority.
- Bush administration secrecy concealed unconstitutional
surveillance. Obama expanded his policies. Unaccountability defines his
administration. So does unprecedented criminality.
- Data mining is one of many lawless practices. It's based
on the spurious notion that "terrorist patterns" can be determined.
State and local authorities now replicate federal policy. Everything's
- Despite years of secret pervasive surveillance, terror
plots weren't uncovered. Bad guys weren't imprisoned. People were targeted
for their race, ethnicity or religion, others for challenging government
policy. As a result, America became less, not more, safe.
- Its entire character changed. Freedom's now endangered.
Dissent can be criminalized. Imperial lawlessness is policy. So is police
state justice. After enacting indefinite detentions of US citizens, tyranny
arrived in America.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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