9/11: 10 Years of Tragedy

September 9, 2011 at 11:45 am

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks against the United States that leveled the World Trade Center in New York City, punched a hole in the side of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and left the burning remains of a commercial airliner in a field near Pittsburgh, PA.  The official death toll from that day was 2,975 including the hijackers of the 4 planes.  Those of use who remember the day will never forget it.  We will never forget where we were, or what we were doing when we heard the news.  We will forever have burned into our mind’s eye the image if the Twin Towers falling.  We will never forget.

On Sunday, we should all take some time to reflect on the lives lost on that day 10 years previous, and on the lives lost since that day as a result.  Prayers and kind wishes go out to those who lost friends and loved ones in the attacks, and in the wars that followed.  When we heard the news, the foremost question was ‘why?’  Why would a group of people plan and execute such a horrific act against the United States?  We were told by our leaders that “they hate us because of our freedom”.  At the time, this was a good enough response for most.  However if we consider this more closely, it simply does not hold up.

The leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden stated his reasons for the attacks many times.  He issued statements before 2001 which mirrored his sentiments and reasoning after 9/11 took place.  We were not attacked because we are free (though as a result of the attacks we are less free).  We were not attacked because we are largely viewed as a Christian nation.  We were, according to Osama bin Laden, attacked because of our own actions.  Osama bin Laden gave three primary reasons for the attacks of 9/11:

  1. U.N. sanctions imposed against Iraq.
  2. The presences of U.S. Military in Saudi Arabia.
  3. The U.S. support of Israel

Based on the grievances given by the Al-Qaeda leader, 9/11 was the result of a phenomenon known as ‘blowback’.  Blowback is defined as the violent, unintended consequences of military action.  The case, as presented by bin Laden fits the blowback scenario perfectly.  The U.S., in league with the U.N. helped to enforce sanctions against Iraq throughout the 1990s.  Osama bin Laden issued a fatwā in 1998 calling for a jihad against Americans.  He used all of the points listed above to justify such a calling:

“…despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million… despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.”

In that same 1998 fatwā Osama called out the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, home of the holiest sites in Islam such as Mecca.

“First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.”

He also addressed the issue of America’s interest in Israel.

“…if the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel’s survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.”

The mass murder committed on 9/11 was terrifying.  It was unjustified and it was evil beyond description.  From the prospective of our enemies, were our actions against them any more justified?  The point I seek to make is that were we in their position, with a foreign power occupying our land, barring our trade, and fostering relations with a country we did not like, would we not also be of mind to seek hostile retribution for wrongs committed against us? Let me be perfectly clear: the attacks of 9/11 were evil, and the loss of life was devastating.  Nothing can excuse such a violent and demonic act.  I am in no way seeking to absolve or justify Islamic terrorism perpetrated against the United States or any other entity. I vehemently condemn the use of violence in all by purely defensive actions generated as a response to direct hostile aggression after all other avenues have failed. I am merely suggesting that perhaps our failed policies of foreign interventionism planted the seeds of animosity from which people like Osama bin Laden, and organizations like Al-Qaeda sprung forth.

Had we as a nation followed our Constitution and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers we would not be involved with the U.N., have troops stationed anywhere overseas, or be getting involved with the affairs of another nation such as Israel.  Perhaps we as a country need to take a step back and acknowledge that our actions have consequences and that those consequences may have devastating effects.  It is exceptionally arrogant and foolish to believe that we can simply do as we please without regard to the natural rights and sovereignty of other nations and their respective peoples without repercussions.  We have been meddling in the affairs of the Middle East since the early 1950s.  Is it really any wonder that we were stung for prodding the hornets nest?  How would the citizens of the United States react if China decided to set up a base on our land and use its presence to exert influence over the practices and policies of our government?  There would be an uprising.  There would be resistance.  There would be revolt.

Instead of learning from our mistakes, we have taken the path of escalation.  We have not only retaliated against Afghanistan, where bin Laden was believed to be, but we have also entered into a pointless and unconstitutional war with Iraq, and now we have intervened in Libya. The total cost so far? According to a study by the Eisenhower Study Group, $3.8-$4 trillion is the projected total monetary cost of the wars at this point in time.  The cost in human life is far greater.  The death toll for U.S. military personnel is 6,051.  That is more than double the number of lives lost on 9/11.  The loss of life to Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani forces is greater at a total of 19,030.  The greatest toll, while written off by our leaders as collateral damage was upon the citizens of those regions.  Afghan citizens accounted for 12,000 to 14,000 deaths.  Iraqis suffered more than 125,000 deaths.  The people of Pakistan faced at least 35,000 killed.  These are just the number of individuals killed as a result of our unconstitutional wars.  This does not even take into account the vastly larger number of those injured and maimed.  These are human lives.  They are no more or less valuable than the life of any American, or any other person on this Earth.  Our leaders claim that we are spreading democracy, and that we are helping these people.  Obviously there exists a massive void between the intent and the execution of our “help”.  As a result of these wars, we are responsible for deaths many times in excess of those caused by the attacks of 9/11.

Aside from the moral issue of war, we are also faced with the reality that we cannot from a financial and economical position continue to expand and support our military actions.  We are bankrupt as a country.  43 cents of every dollar the government spends is borrowed.  I am not aware of the statistic regarding how much of that money was created by inflation, but given that the Federal Reserve doubled the money supply between 2007 and 2008, it stands to reason that the percentage is significant.  Meanwhile our economy is crumbling.  We simply cannot continue to sustain this “War on Terror”, which by definition cannot be won.  Terror is not a physical thing.  You cannot shoot it, blow it up, or kill it.  Terrorism is a tactic of war.  It does not take a centralized physical form which can be destroyed as is the case when war is declared upon a country.

While the cost of war resulting from 9/11 has been a horrific affront to the sanctity of human life and to the economy of the United States, the tragedy does not stop there.  9/11 was the catalyst that triggered a full-on attack against the liberty and freedom of United States citizens.  Officials in government used the emotion that was generated by this terrible event to fleece the people of liberty in the name of safety and apprehending those responsible.  The sickeningly named “Patriot” Act was passed, giving the federal government sweeping new powers which undermined the Constitution; the foundation of our Republic.  The 4th Amendment was made optional.  The government authorized itself to violate the privacy of individuals by allowing warrantless wiretaps, searches of e-mail, telephone, medical, financial, and other records.  It expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism to widen the number of activities that could be used as an excuse to exercise these provisions.  The Secretary of the Treasury was given extended authority to interfere with financial transactions.  Anyone designated as an “enemy combatant” can now be held indefinitely without being charged.  The writ of habeas corpus, as specifically articulated in Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution was thrown out the window.

“The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” – United States Constitution, Article I, section 9

The fact that Congress decided to call this piece of legislation the Patriot Act just adds insult to injury.  There is nothing patriotic about the Patriot Act.  A bill that undermines the very foundation of our country and grossly expands the scope and power of the federal government is the furthest thing from patriotic.  Patriotism is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “love for or devotion to one’s country”.  While it is true that there are many different ways of showing patriotism, it is deceitful to use the term, in addition to the events of 9/11 to foster support for a bill that so clearly violates the supreme law of our nation.  In 2009 the Missouri Information Analysis Center put out a report titled “The Modern Militia Movement” which the report presents as a domestic terrorist group.  The report lists as possible members people who supported Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr for president.  It also lists people who display images of the Gadsden Flag, which is a historic symbol frequently used by the Tea Party.  How are these people terrorists?   Supporting ideas that are not found to be in keeping with the opinion of the government does not a terrorist make.  The abuse of Americans perpetrated under the banner of the Patriot Act disgusting.

The events of 9/11 and the war gave the government new incentive to expand.  The Department of Homeland Security was created in a failed effort to facilitate communication within the U.S. intelligence and enforcement apparatus.  From the DHS, spawned the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA.  The TSA specializes in perpetrating the direct assault on privacy by humiliating Americans who seek to travel by air with invasive “patdowns” and so called “naked body scanners” capable of seeing the nude body through clothing.

In the name of fighting terrorism, we have utilized barbaric tools of physical, mental and emotional harm to extract information from suspected enemies.  In doing so, we as a country have taken part in a serious violation of human rights and human dignity.  Studies show that information obtained through torture or “enhanced interrogation” is unreliable and does not produce results any better than those of traditional interrogation.  This Republic is better than that.  We as a people are better than that.  We must condemn such atrocities and hold our nation to a higher standard.  For a nation that is to be a beacon of freedom, liberty, and prosperity to the world, we are a terrible example with our global militaristic empire and the dire state of our economy.

This Sunday, as the powerful memories and emotions of 9/11 again take hold we must focus that energy into a force for restoring liberty here at home.  No good can come of blind patriotism, but for an already bloated government.  We owe our allegiance to our country, our neighbors, our family, and the principles that made our nation great.  The true patriot seeks out the flaws of his or her nation and works to amend them.  Only a fool takes their liberty for granted and ignores wrongs while hiding behind the banner of patriotism.

Let us never forget all who perished on 9/11, or in the 10 years since.  Life and liberty are interdependent.  Without one, the other is meaningless.  9/11 represents a great loss of both to the citizens of the United States.  Let us never forget.

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