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Understanding the World after 9-11

Even though we still have Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp there are those who feel that we should close it down and stop the torture for example degrading the person lack of sleep or lack of food and even though it was effective at times to get information out of prisoners by using such techniques though after September 11, 2001 and the media getting pictures of how we was treating these prisoners we had to change, some to the good others are not so good because a prisoner may tell you what you want to hear and it may not be the truth. Then there is still the public inquiring about the prisoners where would we have to transfer them? This scares those who live near a prison, many are terrorist so what should we do? Clean up and make Alcatraz Island also known as the Rock and put them there? From what we have learned that place is no better. Until there is peace throughout all the lands and countries there will and must be safeguards not just for us but for those who are suicide bombers and other terrorist.
When someone threatened U.S. interests and safety, the government started thinking up ways to protect the citizens of our beautiful country. This is where the USA Patriot Act came from.
The USA Patriot Act was signed into law by former President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, just a little over a month after the attacks. It is an acronym that stands for, Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. The easiest way to put what this act did was to say that it reduced the restrictions in law enforcement agencies’ gathering intelligence with the United States, expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities, and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. So, basically saying that our civil liberties were slowly being stripped away.
The USA Patriot Act, in my opinion, feels like the start of our rights that are clearly stated in the US Constitution being taken away from us. Yes, I do feel that there needs to be more protection for the US citizens, but not by taking away our rights. The First Amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. The USA Patriot Act is pretty much saying that sure you can do all those things, but now we are going to watch, judge, and act on anything we feel is even slightly suspicious, oh and without your consent.
The Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause, is basically gone. I feel as though the USA Patriot Act completely took away that right. For example: a man’s house was searched through and torn apart while he wasn’t even home all because a photo clerk at a Walgreen’s reported a photo he developed for a child’s bloody face. The photo turned out to be part of a movie that the man was writing music for. So this man’s house was now a disaster all because the Fourth Amendment didn’t apply due to the USA Patriot Act.
Now as for torture, I feel as though there is a point where we are going too far and a point where it is necessary when trying to get the information we need to keep peace in our country. Water-boarding, in my opinion, is not crossing that line. I feel as though this type of “torture” is a key to pulling out information that we would need to save lives. I would say that anything beyond that, i.e. cutting, burning, beating would be going too far and we are just starting to become the people that we call our enemies and are fighting against.
As part of the US military, I feel like a part of my should agree with this Act, but I can’t wrap my head around the fact that our civil liberties are being taken away and if this type of thing keeps going then where will we be in 20-30 years? Our country will start to look like the ones we go to and try and fix their government. I’m sure none of us want that. Maybe instead of thinking on a whim and when we are all still heartbroken and mad that someone could do something so devastating as 9/11, we should sit back and think of what is best for our country and the people in it.
Obviously, not all of the changes that resulted from the September 11th tragedy were beneficial to the nation, especially the Anti-Islam Sentiment that was developed (Jamil). America’s 2.6 million Muslims have constantly found themselves facing resentment and hostility during the years after 9/11 (9/11: 'The Day the World Changed). Some Americans had responded to the September 11 terrorist attacks with extreme terror, as well as a growing intolerance against people who were, or simply just appeared to be from the Middle East. Immediately after the attacks, the government searched for suspects internationally, and numerous Muslims in the U.S. reported that they were the victims of hate crimes and harassment (Villemez). After the attacks, Islamic violence in America increased greatly.
According to the FBI, 28 hate crimes in 2000 were found to be anti-Islamic, while that number rose rapidly to 481, and remains above 100 a decade later (The 9/11 Commission Report). There has also been a significant growth of religious division and public distrust of Muslims in America (9/11: 'The Day the World Changed). “The perception many Americans share today is that "terrorism" and "Islam" are synonymous..
An immediate change, which occurred as a result of 9/11, was to take new measures of safety in our Nation’s security. Most of the security changes after the attacks took place in the airports (Villemez). A couple months after the attacks, Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. This created the Transportation Security Administration that secures all transportation systems and insures air travel safety (Johnstone). The TSA implemented new procedures, which included more rigid guidelines on screening. After 9/11 as new threats were being discovered, new procedures were being introduced including removing shoes and banning all liquids. Airplanes also underwent major changes including fortified cockpit doors becoming more common, and less first-class cabin curtains being used by many airlines (Villemez). Pilots can now become a federal flight deck officer by applying, which gives them the right to carry a gun and serve as a federal officer. In order to compensate for the extra security costs, a “Sept. 11 fee” was added onto passengers' tickets. The TSA has collected nearly $15 billion over nine years (Shanty). Besides air travel, railways and mass transit systems now have checkpoint regulations that allow law enforcement to randomly search personal property and bags. Also random stops at major tunnels were greatly increased to include checkpoint searches at the discretion of law enforcement (Johnstone).
The improvement of security in travels shows the tremendous impact of 9/11, but it also is clearly evident in the policies adopted by the U.S. government immediately after the tragedy (Villemez). Former President George W. Bush passed a considerable amount of U.S. legislation to strengthen U.S. National Security (The 9/11 Commission Report). The Patriot Act may be the most obvious piece of legislation relating to Sept. 11. In the 2002, there were more than 130 pieces of 9/11-related legislation introduced in the 107th Congress, with 48 bills and resolutions signed into law. The Patriot Act made it easier for law enforcement agencies to search telephone, medical and financial records (Villemez). Along with the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, they included the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. This required the State Department and Immigration to exchange visa and immigrant data with each other (Shanty). According to The Washington Post, there were 263 government organizations created following the attacks. Government agencies created after 9/11 included the Department of Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 combined over 200 government agencies including the TSA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard, and the Secret Service (The 9/11 Commission Report). The government plays a very significant role in our nation, and played their role well by closing most of the holes of insecurity effectively.
Decades is a lengthy time, but perhaps not quite long enough for a country to bounce back from the biggest terrorist attack on its soil. Security measures have been extended, but Americans are still feeling the impact of what happened on that early fall day. Though this incident caused a lasting legacy of terror in many, it also brought America closer as one nation (Villemez). “Instead of turning us against each other, tragedy has brought us together. (…) This country was built as a beacon of freedom and tolerance. That’s what's made us strong, now and forever,” Obama says as he realizes the effect of 9/11 on the country, and the importance of the nation moving forward as one nation and one people (The 9/11 Commission Report). Instead of pulling back from the world, our alliances have been strengthened while security at home has tremendously improved. America now has a renewed sense of pride and unity (9/11: 'The Day the World Changed'). People have begun to realize just how precious every moment we have in life is and how fortunate we are to live in a country that gives us the freedom to live as we please. This day will never be forgotten, lives were lost, lessons were learned, and a stronger America has emerged.
Terrorist networks use fear, pain and suffering as their stock in trade. By definition, terror organisations are not bound by legal due process or rights of appeal and review. Instead they deal out death to innocent members of society who have no power to alter the events and policies that motivate terrorist’s atrocities.
By contrast, the first role of governments is to protect their citizens’ safety and they should use all tools possible to ensure that innocents are not threatened with random death and destruction.
In the light of these two realities, it is appropriate for governments to take extreme measure, such as torture, to protect their citizens.
Individual law enforcement officials, of course, may “feel an incentive” to torture terrorists. But if it is state policy to torture terrorists, then the policy should be rational and the torture interrogations proceed with a fair chance of success.
Terrorists selected for such a role can probably stand up to commonplace tortures from untrained and unequipped staff for a long time—like most American POWs in North Vietnam. The use of sophisticated torture techniques by a trained staff entails the problematic institutional arrangements I have laid out: physician assistance; cutting edge, secret biomedical research for torture techniques unknown to the terrorist organization and tailored to the individual captive for swift effect; well-trained torturers, quickly accessible at major locations; pre-arranged permission from the courts because of the urgency; rejection of independent monitoring due to security issues; and so on. These institutional arrangements will have to be in place, with all their unintended and accumulating consequences, however rarely terrorist suspects are tortured. Then the terrorists themselves must be detected while letting pass without torture a thousand other criminal suspects or dissidents that is, avoiding a dragnet interrogation policy.
The moral error in reasoning from the ticking bomb scenario arises from weighing the harm to the prospective innocent victims against the harm to the guilty terrorist. Instead—even presuming the doubtful, long-term success of torture interrogation—the harm to innocent victims of the terrorist should be weighed against the breakdown of key social institutions and state-sponsored torture of many innocents. Stated most starkly, the damaging social consequences of a program of torture interrogation evolve from institutional dynamics that are independent of the original moral rationale.
What is just and what is unjust is determined by an ethical calculus, or a social contract - both in constant flux. Still, it is commonly agreed that every person has the right not to be tortured, or killed unjustly.
Yet, even if we find an Archimedean immutable point of moral reference - does A's right not to be tortured, let alone killed, mean that third parties are to refrain from enforcing the rights of other people against A?
To complicate matters further, many apparently simple and straightforward rights are amalgams of more basic moral or legal principles. To treat such rights as unities is to mistreat them.
Take the right not to be tortured. It is a compendium of many distinct rights, among them: the right to bodily and mental integrity, the right to avoid self-incrimination, the right not to be pained, or killed, the right to save one's life (wrongly reduced merely to the right to self-defense), the right to prolong one's life (e.g., by receiving medical attention), and the right not to be forced to lie under duress.
None of these rights is self-evident, or unambiguous, or universal, or immutable, or automatically applicable. It is safe to say, therefore, that these rights are not primary - but derivative, nonessential, or mere "wants".
This will presumably maintain that the events of 11 September 2001 had such a profound and permanent impact on the nature of international security that historical lessons no longer apply. However, as Christopher Andrew has argued in a paper on this website, this is a dangerously mistaken view. In fact, Britain's experiences with interrogations half a century ago can be instructive for governments and intelligence services today. Stephens' rule of non-violence in interrogations seems to be as important now as it was then. Stephens believed that in any protracted war, the quick benefits that might be gained from physical abuse in interrogations were far outweighed by the long-term damage to intelligence-gathering which those acts would cause. Stephens believed that the objective of interrogations should not be to obtain quick answers to a few specific questions. Rather, interrogations should induce a prisoner to give all the information in their possession and the only way to do that, Stephens judged, was to refrain from violence. As we have noted, Britain's historical experiences with how to interrogate prisoners effectively is supported by the experiences of other countries. History shows that the use of violence during interrogations invariably produces unreliable intelligence and ultimately is counter-productive.
One high-level British official involved with counter-terrorism has argued that if Britain were to dismiss all the information that may have been acquired by torture, Britain would effectively be fighting terrorism with one hand tied behind its back. At the same time, however, counter-terrorism officials and policy makers should be aware of the striking lessons that history provides regarding the use of torture. Instead, policy makers should be aware that cases where it works, such as, to a degree, in French Algeria, are the exception rather than the rule. Historical precedents show that information acquired by third degree measures will in the long term be less than reliable. In fact, it seems that those countries today which are making use of torture in the so-called 'war on terror' are doing so because of a catastrophic failure on the part of their intelligence services. They are using torture to make up for failures in what should be the ordinary business of intelligence services, namely gaining useful human intelligence. At best, using torture will produce unreliable intelligence. At worst, it could serve to recruit and radicalize would-be terrorists. This opinion was perfectly summarized by the French-Algerian philosophical writer, Albert Camus:
Torture has perhaps saved some, at the expense of honour, by uncovering thirty bombs, but at the same time it arouses fifty new terrorists who, operating in some other way and in some other place will cause the death of even more innocent people. Even when accepted in the interest of realism and efficacy, such a flouting of honour serves no purpose but to degrade our country in her own eyes and abroad.
When viewed from an historical perspective, one cannot escape the conclusion that governments and intelligence communities today are not making new mistakes, but simply repeating old ones. The September 9/11 attacks of 2001 on America’s soil were an astonishing moment that changed the definition of National Security for majority of the American citizens. It is evident on the events that happened on that day when three hijacked airliners shockingly hit three different buildings with such skill and precision, which many observers believe that those flights were fully controlled by something else apart from the hijackers in the cockpit who were poorly trained. The attacks were simultaneously coordinated and they targeted specific designated offices within each of the buildings. These offices held information, which was sensitive since it, would have led to an exposure of national security secrets to unimaginable magnitude. The terrorist group known as al-Qaeda, which is based in Afghanistan and its leader being Osama bin Laden, organized these attacks. Previously before the attacks, the al-Qaeda had declared war on the Americans due to what was happening in the Middle East at that time but many of the Americans did not expect to be attacked on their own soil by these terrorists. These attacks resulted to loss of 2,993 lives, destruction on one part of the Pentagon, destruction of four commercial aircrafts and destruction of the World Trade Center (Langley, 2006). After the September 9/11 attacks of 2001, President George W. Bush had complicated and daunting decision on how to react since he was faced with a serious assault, which was shocking and sudden. President Bush and his entire administration simultaneously were encountering a sensitive and potentially dangerous situation in the Middle East. Thus, the Middle Eastern Muslims as being a way of justifying America’s self-defense would have perceived any possible type of intervention such as military intervention or diplomatic intervention. Before taking any action the President had to take into consideration Bin Laden’ motives for the deadly attacks (Langley, 2006). Thus, investigations were launched to conclusively comprehend the execution and the motivations of the attacks in addition to the War on Terrorism that was ongoing in Afghanistan. The government response included funding the affected families, rebuilding of the Lower-East Manhattan, investigation and invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and noble plans in the War on Terrorism (Langley, 2006). The ethical precepts that were used in the justification of the U.S. response after 9/11 included the need to crash all the terrorists, to safeguard the American citizens as well as ensure that there was peace in the Middle East. Foreigners had threatened the Americans on their own soil and this was a big blow to the Bush administration including the people who were charged with providing national security. It was therefore paramount to take all the necessary efforts possible to ensure that such an attack did not happen again in future (Langley, 2006). There were moral, religious, philosophical and ethical motives of the 9/11 terrorists since their actions were unwarranted and unethical. The terrorists’ philosophy was the Jihad War, which stated that the only way to go to ‘Heaven’ was through dying in the jihad war. The attacks were carried out by a Muslim organization and majority of the Americans were Christians (Langley, 2006). Numerous changes were made on the airport security whereby people had to be screened effectively to ensure no terrorist would again access to the America’s soil since the terrorists of the 9/11 attacks had entered through the airports. Another change at the airports included racial profiling whereby any person who was perceived to be an Arab or a Muslim was thoroughly screened and interrogated to establish their backgrounds. This led to a huge outcry from the American Muslims who lamented that this was an act of racial discrimination (Langley, 2006). There are numerous modern torture methods, which include psychological torture, sensory deprivation, starvation and thirst, sleep deprivation, water - boarding, forced standing, Palestinian hanging, sweatboxes, sexual assault and humiliation. These methods have been used on the terrorists that have been caught in order to send a strong warning to the others that they should stop the practice. The ethical justification for these torture methods includes sending a clear message that terrorism is not tolerated in this modern society as well ensuring that those caught in the terrorism acts never repeat them again (Langley, 2006).


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