Via IPS News
By Kanya D’Almeida
WASHINGTON, Sep 9, 2011 (IPS) – The tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon on Sep. 11, 2001 is marked by mourning.
With rallies planned across the country, largely concentrated at the sites of the twin tragedies in Washington D.C. and Lower Manhattan in New York City, victims’ family members and politicians will gather on Sunday to share a solemn moment for those who were killed and maimed on that fateful day.
But another group of mourners are making themselves heard this year, lamenting more than just civilian deaths.
Led by civil rights and advocacy organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Brennan Center for Justice, this group is marking the demise of pre-9/11 democracy in the U.S., using the auspicious day to demand restoration of basic human and civil rights.
“We are using this moment to take a step back and ask big, broad questions about how and why the U.S. continues to define itself in a state of perpetual emergency, how we seem to be moving towards a national security state, rather than returning to a proper balance between liberty and security,” Ben Wizner, litigation director of the ACLU’s National Security Project and co-author of the union’s newly- minted report “A Call to Courage“, told IPS.
Wizner acknowledged that the U.S. has a long history of responding to national trauma by restricting rights and ladling out unchecked power to the executive during times of crisis – a pattern that is clearly marked out by the government’s clampdown on individual rights and liberties during the Civil War, the Cold War and World War II, he said.
“But part of that pattern has always entailed realising our mistakes, admitting when we went too far, and attempting to regain some sort of balance in civil society,” Wizner said, adding that in the decade since 9/11, the opposite has been true.
“The danger of defining a war as being against ‘terrorism’ is that it takes place everywhere and may last forever, the war itself becomes an abstraction rather than a reality, and there is no end in sight,” he said.
“After the massive security response to 9/11, we all thought the pendulum would swing back, but it appears to be going in the same direction. Despite the fear-mongering, we haven’t seen massive follow-up attacks in the U.S., the political debate is the same as it was 10 years ago, more and more power is being channeled to the executive and to law enforcement and there has been increased authorization of illegal detentions without charge or trial and to the use of lethal force away from traditional battlefields,” he concluded.