Friday, September 09, 2011

Residue of 9/11

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Bathrooms are still locked in the parts of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system that run underground. Might be a bomb in there. No trash cans are allowed on train platforms either.

Osama bin Laden's murderous made-for-TV-movie has left us a more fearful, suspicious and generally ignorantly anxious society.

Successive administrations -- this doesn't seem to be a matter of political party -- have manipulated our anxiety to undermine our expectations of personal freedom under transparent, fairly applied laws.

September 11 was tragic in many ways, and it marked the beginning of the greatest decline in democracy in our country since the Japanese internment during World War II and the Red Scare of the 1950s.

It was the day we began to let fear erode our belief in our own system of government, with all its checks and balances and laws and treaties. Playing on that fear, our government began to operate outside the law and in the process destroyed many more lives than those lost in the attack.

Vincent Warren, Center for Constitutional Rights

We're in the international assassination business now.

Targeted killing poses an even graver threat to human rights and the international rule of law because the government claims the unchecked authority to impose an extrajudicial death sentence on people located far from any battlefield. In an actual war, the government's use of lethal force may be lawful, of course, but outside that context, the intentional killing of a civilian without prior judicial process is illegal, except in the narrowest and most extraordinary circumstances – as a last resort to prevent concrete, specific and imminent threats that are likely to cause death or serious physical injury.

Under the targeted killing programme begun by the Bush administration and vastly expanded by the Obama administration, the government now compiles secret "kill lists" of people who remain on those lists for months at a time – and so, by definition, cannot always pose "imminent" threats. And it has refused to disclose the legal criteria it uses to make its targeted killing decisions. There is no way for the American public or the world to know whether the targeted killing programme is lawful, let alone whether the people our government kills truly present an imminent threat to our nation. We do know, though, that in the decade since 9/11, the government has repeatedly labelled people as terrorists – including at Guantánamo – only for us to find out later, or for a court to find, that the government's evidence was exaggerated, wrong, or nonexistent.

Hina Shamsi, ACLU attorney, in the U.K. Guardian

In the words of an ACLU report Reclaiming Our Liberties (also linked in the sidebar for reference), successive administrations have stoked "the fear of terrorism to divide Americans by religion, race, and belief" -- must be those dangerous Muslims and creepy immigrants that are undermining our living standards.

Coupled with rapidly evolving and improving technology of surveillance and social control, we can only wonder when and under what perceived threat elites might advance from collecting our email, selling our data we give them on social networks, and surveilling our shopping behavior to using their more advanced toys to ensure "stability" -- that is, to forcibly further lock in their continued unchallenged enjoyment of inequitable wealth and power. They stole it fair and square and they aim to keep it.
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Against all this, it's nice to hear an occasional voice of sanity, in this case from a BART director suggesting maybe it's time to reopen the bathrooms.

... Tom Radulovich said it’s time to rethink what he termed a “bit of an overreaction." Radulovich said that security has just become a convenient excuse for keeping them closed.

“Reading between the lines, it’s just that they don't want to pay to clean them,” said Radulovich. “I think that’s the real story, so they’re hiding behind this ‘Osama is going to use them to kill people.'”

Bay Citizen

This is one way fightback starts. Ridicule is often harder to contain than protest.

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