In the Aftermath of 2001/09/11
Ever since the terrorist attacks in NYC and Washington, I've been trying to formulate some kind of response for this web-page, but each time I sit down to write some new event in the aftermath makes me so angry that I'm unable to think clearly. So, with considerable embarrassment, here are some of my responses to these terrible events:
To President Bush: You're speech, equating anybody who disagrees with the government's "War on Terrorism" response - to the terrorists themselves, was perhaps the most divisive thing you could have said during this crisis. You would do well to consider that public dissent is one of the most cherished liberties that we have, and to stifle dissent, either explicitly or implicitly, places you squarely in the camp of the Taliban's and Bin Laden's of the world.
To Our Representatives, Senators, and Justice Dept. Officials: You can dismantle the 4th Amendment with the Combatting Terrorism Act of 2001 (CTA) (Diane Feinstein D-CA, Orrin Hatch R-UT) and the Mobilization Against Terrorism Act (MATA) (John Ashcroft, Attorney General). You can criminalize the personal use of encryption (draft legislation being prepared by Judd Gregg R-NH). You can make hackers into "terrorists" (Ashcroft and MATA again!) by turning computer intrusions into federal offenses. And all of these measures will do...EXACTLY NOTHING...to stop Al Qaeda and organizations like it. Are we really naive enough to believe that Osama Bin Laden, or any country that might harbor him, cares about the laws that we pass here? Do we really believe that the terrorists don't have access to strong encryption and ways of defeating even the most sophisticated snooping technologies?
To the So Called "My Country Right or Wrong" Patriots: Patriotism is not the exclusive province of flag-waving, "bomb the Afghans into the stone-age," hot-heads. Many of the rescuers in NYC, many of the people at the blood-banks, many of the people digging into their wallets to help the victims, are the same people that are calling for cooler heads to prevail. It's easy to be a patriot when it looks like most everybody agrees with you, but the true test will be to stand up in the face of overwhelming opposition and say, "If we give away the our liberties, then the terrorists really will have won."
To Colin Powell (Sec. State) and Donald Rumsfeld (Sec. Defense): Did you really mean to imply in your speeches that we (the United States) would eliminate any government that harbors terrorists? Show some goddamned restraint! It's one thing to think, or to privately discuss such actions within the government, but quite another to say it in public. Is the United States going to go after say...Germany? I mean after all, there is much evidence to suggest that some of the attacks on 9/11 were planned by members of Al Qaeda in Hamburg. What about Ireland (IRA cells)? What about Great Britain and their foot-dragging on the Protestant Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland? What about Spain (the ETA)--maybe we should bomb the Basque regions? And the list goes on and on. Oh wait...I get it...we're only going to use this as an excuse to go after regimes that we don't like. Duh!
To The Joint Chiefs: I hope you learn the lessons of history. 15,000 Russian soldiers died in Afghanistan in the 1980's, and over 4500 British soldiers were massacred there in 1842 as they attempted to abandon the country. Don't make the same mistakes. Conventional campaigns are impossible against the countries and terrorist cells that you are so casually targeting.
And Finally to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell: As so many have already said -- You are our own little Taliban. You are what is worst, what is most despicable about this country. The evil hubris of men like you is why the US often believes that it can treat other nations as our toilet. We would do well to repudiate you, the CBN, and all people like you, while at the same time, as Joe Conason so eloquently put it in the recent Salon.com article Bomb them with butter, "...the US should blanket Afghanistan with food, clothing, and medicine."