At The Rutherford Institute, John and Nisha Whitehead discuss the blowback from twenty-two years of the USA PATRIOT Act, and what it means for America. They write:
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”—Hermann Goering, German military commander and Hitler’s designated successor
For those who remember the days and months that followed 9/11, there is an unnerving feeling of déjà vu about the Hamas attacks on Israel.
The same shocking images of carnage and grief dominating the news. The same disbelief that anyone could be so hateful, so monstrous, so evil as to do this to another human being. The same outpourings of support and unity from around the world. The same shared fear that this could easily have happened to us or our loved ones.
Now once again the drums of war are sounding on the world stage, not that they ever really stopped. Israel is preparing to invade Gaza, the Palestinians are nearing a humanitarian crisis, and the rest of the world is bracing for whatever blowback comes next.
Here in the United States, as we approach the 22nd anniversary of the USA Patriot Act on October 26, we’re still grappling with the blowback that arises from allowing one’s freedoms to be eviscerated in exchange for the phantom promise of security.
Here are a few lessons that we never learned or learned too late.
Mammoth legislation that expands the government’s powers at the citizenry’s expense will not make anyone safer. Rushed through Congress a mere 45 days after the 9/11 attacks, the USA Patriot Act drove a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, undermined civil liberties, expanded the government’s powers and opened the door to far-reaching surveillance by the government on American citizens.
Pre-emptive strikes will only lead to further blowback. Not content to wage war against Afghanistan, which served as the base for Osama bin Laden, the U.S. embarked on a pre-emptive war against Iraq in order to “stop any adversary challenging America’s military superiority and adopt a strike-first policy against terrorist threats ‘before they’re fully formed.’” We are still suffering the consequences of this failed policy, which resulted in lives lost, taxpayer dollars wasted, the fomenting of hatred against the U.S. and the further radicalization of terrorist cells.
War is costly. There are many reasons to go to war, but those who have advocated that the U.S. remain at war, year after year, are the very entities that have profited most from these endless military occupations and exercises. Thus far, the U.S. taxpayer has been made to shell out more than $8 trillion to wage wars abroad, including the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt. That also does not include the more than hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, or the millions displaced from their homes as a result of endless drone strikes and violence.
Read more here.
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