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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/11/14

9/11's Other Victims

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Message John Brock

For the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States, it is important to mourn not only those who perished on that day, but also those who were victimized in the aftermath, of which there are many

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As bad as the 9/11 attacks were for the US, the government's response, which led to a far greater number of deaths, and wasted trillions of dollars in taxpayer funds, has been far worse for the country. The US economy still has yet to come close to a full recovery from the "Great Recession," yet billions are still being churned out for the war machine, while programs intended to meet human needs, such as investment in infrastructure and education, are being drastically cut. The Constitution, particularly the 4th Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures and the 6th Amendment's guarantee of due process, has been all but discarded by the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The US, with the 9/11 attacks as a pretext, invaded two nations, Afghanistan and Iraq, whose people had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Nearly 4,500 American service members died in Iraq, and nearly 2,500 died in Afghanistan--substantially greater than the 3,000 who perished as a result of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The number of US contractors killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, of which the Pentagon has yet to do an official tally, likely surpasses the number of US military personnel killed. But the people of Iraq and Afghanistan were liberated by US and allied bombing, right? Wrong. Nearly 150,000 Iraqi civilians died in the carnage, which is likely a gross underestimate. At least 21,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

But at least the American people have been kept secure by these military interventions, right? To the contrary, the American people, who have been milked trillions of dollars for these haphazard military interventions, are in dire economic straits. Though it is true that much of that money was deficit-financed, those very same deficits are being used by politicians, Democratic and Republican alike, as an excuse to cut funding to programs that the neediest depend upon. Although the squandering of trillions of dollars on unnecessary wars did not directly bring about the "Great Recession," the fact that the government opted to continue war making and not invest that money in a massive public works program to create jobs has botched the economic recovery, if indeed there has been a recovery at all.

The Bill of Rights to the US Constitution has been willfully abused in the name of keeping the American people safe. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, which, among other egregious things, allows searches of library and bookstore patrons' records without warrants, in direct contravention of the 4th Amendment, would have been unthinkable prior to the 2001 terrorist attacks. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, which allows for the indefinite detainment of American citizens without trial for any reason, would have also been unimaginable in the pre-9/11 world; in the post-9/11 world this abandonment of the 6th Amendment's due process guarantee barely received any media attention.

For the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the American people need to, yes, remember those who perished from the violence on that day, but also remember those who were victimized by the government's response. Those victims include US military personnel and contractors as well as the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, the American people as a whole, who are still suffering economically and whose Constitutionally-guaranteed rights have been taken away. Given that the US is on the eve of another massive military adventure in Iraq and Syria, it is important to reflect upon where the US is today, and where it intends to be in the future, so that the same mistakes from the past are not made again. To do anything less is a disservice to those who died on 9/11 and in its aftermath.

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John Brock holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in city planning. His writing interests include American politics, the U.S. Congress, anti-war activism, health care, civil liberties, and economic democracy. He (more...)

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