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It has now been more than 7 full years since the dastardly 9/11 attacks. The time has come to finally put 9/11 permanently behind us.
We must never forget that 2,975 innocent people lost their lives that fateful day. We must never forget that a small but growing band of fundamentalist Islamic extremists is dedicated to our destruction, and we must continue to be vigilant against future attacks. We must always remember that the attack was conceived and executed by Osama Bin Laden's terrorist group, al Qaeda. But it is high time for us to end our paranoia resulting from the attack, as it has led us to neglect our real focus and has prompted us to embark on a number of expensive and mistaken other ventures.
Joe Biden nailed it perfectly when he chastised fearmongerer Rudy Giuliani for being obsessed with the attack and only having "a noun, a verb, and 9/11" to say about public policy. Cheap, self-serving, unstable, and paranoid politicians like Giuliani have had a field day with 9/11, most of them being conservatives and members of the neocon faction of the Republican Party which has dominated that party and much of public debate ever since George W. Bush took office. Since 2002, the GOP/conservative bloc has passed or attempted to pass unnecessarily repressive and invasive laws like the slyly-named Patriot Act to legalize wiretapping and email, library, and bank account surveillence. The writ of habeas corpus (the right of an accused to have actual charges brought against him, to have an adequate defense, and the right to have an actual fair trial) has even been suspended for those suspected of being terrorists. This means, of course, that by accusing you of terrorism, the government can arrest you, lock you up and detain you indefinitely, and you are powerless to do anything about it. Habeas corpus was first created in 1215 by England's King John, and has been the basis for western law ever since! In one fell swoop, then, this rash Republican -led action overturned nearly 800 years of established democratic and constitutional law. A generation ago, this same bloc were warning us of the dangers of George Orwell's "Big Brother", the all-knowing, pervasive and invasive government in the novel 1984. By 2002, these same paranoidal elements had BECOME Big Brother! They went to such excess, in fact, the Supreme Court even overturned parts of the Patriot Act as being unconstitutional and way over the top.
The Republicans didn't just stop with infringing on our rights, though. They have not hesitated to use the fear generated by 9/11 again and again to pass their agenda and for their own political gain. By accusing opponents of their platform or candidates of the other party of being unpatriotic or soft on terrorism, these renegade Republicans were able to pass a number of controversial tax-breaks-for-the-rich and military appropriations bills and non-bid military contracts worth billions for corporate campaign donors. They were also able to scare voters into electing their candidates, for a time. These paranoid neocon Republicans still exert a strong grip on their party, and they're simply not happy unless they're bullying someone or depriving us of our constitutional rights. The time has come for this insanity to end.
This use of 9/11 for political gain by the Republicans has been highly hypocritical in a number of ways. First, their claim to be the party best suited to provide our national security is absolute, 100% nonsense. It was THEY who controlled the Congress and White House on 9/11 when we were attacked, NOT the Democrats. In fact, the outgoing Clinton administration had even foiled an attempted attack on the L.A. International airport in early 2000, and had provided warning about Bin Laden planning an attack on our soil to the incoming Bush administration. This warning went ignored. The morning of August 6, 2001, Bush was briefed that intelligence had detected an imminent Bin Laden attack, possibly using airplanes. This, too, was not acted upon. One month later came 9/11. In light of this background, the Republican claim that they are best suited for our protection and that the Democrats are soft on terrorism is an absolute lie. Second, were Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neocon Republicans REALLY interested in protecting us from another attack on our soil, they would have sealed and strengthened our port and border security ON 9/11, and that is something THEY HAVE NEVER DONE THEN OR SINCE! To this very day, our southern border remains wide open, a place where virtually anyone or anything can cross it unnoticed and unopposed. Plus, to this very day, only 1% of all the cargo ships unloading goods in our country receive a customs inspection. Why? Because Bush and his big business multinational corporate allies want to ensure a steady stream of cheap illegal immigrant labor floods into the country. This ensures that wage levels will remain low and breaks the back of un ion labor. This also proves the GOP's and Bush's rhetoric on national security is a lie. These people would have us believe that al Qaeda was a monolithic, all-powerful force on the verge of destroying us. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are a ragtag, disunited group of small, separate entities united only in their hatred of America. At no point were they in collusion withSaddam Hussein's Iraq and they are not in league with Ahmedinijad's Iran now. WERE they the all-powerful group Bush and Cheney always infer, our borders would have been properly tightened up on 9/11 AFTERNOON! But Bush and Cheney used 9/11 as an excuse to go after what they really wanted in the first place: Iraqi OIL. $1 trillion later, the rest is history. In view of all this missinformation and these missteps, how can ANYONE accept the Republican Party's assertion that they are the only ones capable of protecting us from terrorism?
This Friday night, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain will hold their first Presidential Debate, on the topic of Foreign Affairs. Obama will undoubtedly outline his broad, strategic vision, much of which has been directly or indirectly endorsed by many former Secretaries of State serving both Republican and Democratic past administrations. John McCain will undoubtedly try to convince us that due to his 26 year tenure in Washington, he has a better grip on foreign policy than Obama. As a militaristic and combative tactician cut from the Bush mold, it is highly doubtful he will be able to convince voters that his stale and imperfect strategy is the best course to follow. Fearmongering and jingoism are not tactics the public will buy any more.
2,975 innocents died on 9/11. 2,350 died in the bloody attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but people weren't saying "Remember 12/7" a full 7 years after THAT attack. Nor did that attack lead to the suspension of habeas corpus, or cause us to attack another country with absolutely no ties to the Pearl Harbor attack. Have we overreacted, or acted inappropriately because of 9/11? Since we have all but abandoned the search for Bin Laden, have not destroyed al Qaeda, and invaded Iraq for her oil, it would certainly seem so!
We must remain vigilant and strong to prevent another 9/11-style occurrence, but we do not have to attack other countries, erect prison camps, torture prisoners, or trample the Constitution to do so. It is downright unpatriotic for the Republicans, including Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, to continue using 9/11 to mislead the public, and to selfishly and hypocritically continue using that terrible tragedy for their own perceived political benefit. We must stop playing political games with our anti-terrorism effort. We must bring our troops HOME from the immoral and costly Iraq debacle and strengthen them in Afghanistan, so as to finish the job on Bin Laden and al Qaeda we should have finished six years ago. Above and beyond all else, though, it is high time we put 9/11 BEHIND US once and for all!
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