Osama bin Laden’s attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, succeeded in convincing our leaders to abandon our values in tragic ways:
- We invaded a country that had not attacked us based on lies told to us by our leaders.
- We turned much of the Muslim world into prime recruiting grounds for terrorist groups like al Qaeda.
- We suspended habeas corpus.
- We tortured.
- We spied on Americans with a warrantless wiretapping program and likely with another program that the former administration seems to have illegally kept from congressional review.
I don’t know if that’s exactly what bin Laden and his al Qaeda cronies wanted when they carried out those horrific and contemptible attacks nearly eight years ago, but I’m guessing that they can’t be too terribly disappointed in those results.
In short, bin Laden got Americans to ignore the fundamental principle that the ends do not justify the means, an edict that was drilled into me at the fundamentalist Christian schools I attended in my youth, but one that most Americans on the religious right, especially, seem to have forgotten as they shake in their boots at the thought of another terrorist attack.
Osama bin Laden aimed to terrorize us. Our actions following the attacks of September 11, 2001, show that he succeeded in scaring us witless.
I really wish that, following those attacks, Americans had found the courage and patriotism to say to George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of his shameful team what patriot Patrick Henry said to the British: “Give me liberty or give me death.” Instead, most of us seemed to whimper, “Keep me safe at any cost, even the cost of my liberty, even if it means violating core American and democratic principles.”
I think Patrick Henry must spin in his grave at each new revelation of the sins against freedom, liberty, democracy, humanity, and the principles upon which this great nation was founded committed by the Bush Administration.