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Tue Sep 11, 2012, 03:07 AM

"America's 9/11 Response Subverted Our Values, Liberties" - Juan Cole Op/Ed in Detroit News [View all]

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120911/OPINION01/209110320#ixzz268sdOmq5

September 11, 2012 at 1:00 am

Cole: America's 9/11 response subverted our values, liberties

By Juan Cole

In the wake of 9/11, President George W. Bush was advised to avoid the phrase “war on terror.” He chose otherwise.

The United States government's reaction to the attacks of 9/11 some 11 years ago took the world into a tragic era of unnecessary wars and confrontation that destabilized allies and threatened vital long-term U.S. interests.

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For this questionable achievement, the U.S. borrowed more than $1 trillion (on which we are still paying the interest), and faces trillions more in expenses in coming years as the bills for care of wounded veterans mount. We lost 4,486 military personnel killed in action, and more than 30,000 wounded, with a fifth of those suffering brain or spinal injuries. Many veterans of the Iraq War have some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, affecting their well-being, family life and friends.

Administration officials peddled falsehoods such as that Iraq was near to having a nuclear weapon or was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Both the transformation of news into propaganda and the justification of "pre-emptive wars" degraded American values. Americans were told to be afraid. The Bush administration authorized the use of torture, and set up black sites where suspects were held without trial and beyond any law. At home, the U.S. government turned to warrantless surveillance of our telephones and emails.

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The U.S. government's response to the lawlessness and mass killing of 9/11 has too often been a subversion of American laws and values, and an abandonment of the ideals enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

The Founding Fathers would not have wanted the United States to launch wars of aggression as opposed to wars of self-defense, or to set aside the Bill of Rights. They were not naïve, and they faced more severe security challenges than do we today. Nevertheless, they insisted on the sanctity of individual liberties in the midst of those challenges.

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Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History at the University of Michigan and author of “Engaging the Muslim World.

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