Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Twelve years. It’s hard to believe that twelve years have come and gone since that awful day. I was in the fifth grade when the towers fell – and little did I know that here I would be, twelve years later, still living in a world fundamentally different than the one that existed before Sept. 11, 2001.
Before the attacks, one could expect to “be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” to quote the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Now, we live in an age of constant surveillance. Our every move on the Internet is logged and could be tracked without our knowledge, and without the government needing a warrant to get that information. Phone traffic is monitored. The federal government asserts that it has the “right” to open and read your mail.
“Why should you be concerned if you’ve got nothing to hide” goes the usual refrain – but this is a nonsensical notion. The idea that every one of us doesn’t have something that we would rather not let the whole world know is preposterous.
You don’t have to be harboring members of al-Qaida in your basement to not want NSA agents checking up on your embarrassing tastes in music or late-night proclivities.
So long as the government of the U.S. has the ability to do these things, it has the ability to not only deter potential terrorist plots, but also the ability to blackmail its opponents on a large scale.
“That would never happen!” so say those who forget history. As a confidential report leaked by WikiLeaks and published by Rolling Stone last year attests, the Department of Homeland Security was keeping a very close eye on Occupy Wall St., of all people. Interesting.
Why target Occupy? The logic of the “homeland security” state is pretty obvious – because it opposes the day-to-day order that exists in the U.S. Therefore, its little more than a terrorist group, at least in the eyes of the Department of Homeland Security.
Of course, Occupy isn’t the first domestic opposition group terrorized and blackmailed by the U.S. government. Martin Luther King was spied on, harassed and attempts were made at blackmailing him as late as the mid-1960s.
We have seen terrible things done in the name of avenging the lives lost on Sept. 11, as well as our basic human rights violated in the name of fighting terrorism.
We have allowed those who sought to destroy our way of life to do so. In shredding our liberties in the name of fighting terror, we have handed al-Qaida its greatest victory.
We cannot triumph over al-Qaida until we restore our sense-of-self as a free people. We will not “win” the War on Terror until we wake up and realize that.
Devin Griggs is president of the Murray State College Democrats.