The terrorist attacks of 9/11 have given life to an era controlled by the buzzword, “national security”. It has shaped almost all aspects of our lives; the way we fly, the way we work, the way we travel, the way we utilize the internet and the way we interact with others. We are no longer a trustful nation; we are suspicious and have become much less tolerant of the customs of others. 9/11 has divided a nation. It has polarized us into two camps, with very little in between. When we were stripped of our rose coloured glasses, we took a hard right and never looked back at what we once were. We, as a nation, are guided by fear.
In a little over a decade, we have funnelled untold billions into war, into spying; not only on our enemies, but our allies and the citizens of America themselves. We have reached a point where the current democratic President; a former Constitutional lawyer, ensures us that he is well within his legal rights to not only fly over sovereign nations we are not at war with and unleash military bombardment via drone on what one can only describe as horrific human suffering, but also target American citizens who are not an imminent threat to the nation. We have tortured, we have denied due process and we have collected so much data that the haystack within which we seek the elusive needle has become so large that it only stands to reason it is more difficult to find.
The administration promised to us by the Obama campaign is a far call from how this administration actually governs. Hope and change? Not a chance. The rule of law? No cigar. Transparency and accountability? No evidence of that either. In fact, the rights of the American populace have lost significant ground under the Obama administration. The subversion of the Constitution and disregard of our civil liberties practiced by the Bush administration was codified into law on December 31, 2011 under the National Defense Appropriations Act. The revolving non protest zones were also implemented under Obama. While we rail against the GOP/Tea Party’s obstructionism and sheer ridiculousness, we fail to recognize our loss of electoral power we, “the people” have suffered under this administration.
While Bush is viewed as the warmongering President, it was Obama who within the first nine months of his Presidency led the two largest surges, increasing troops in Afghanistan by 64,000. Under Obama, 222,000 troops, not including private contractors, were deployed in the Af-Pak/Iraq regions which outnumbered Bush by 34,000 troops. This is not a testament to the Bush/Cheney government, but Democrats need to assess Obama’s performance based on Obama’s governance, not his public appeal. Democrats need to imagine a Republican face on the questionable actions of this administration and then measure their outrage.
There is far too much defense of this administration’s questionable actions in the name of GOP obstructionism and dysfunction. The revelations made public by Edward Snowden on neither the NSA’s mass surveillance programs nor the aggressive drone program qualify as a by-product of a highly dysfunctional Congress. My considerable concern regarding President Obama are not founded upon what President Obama fails to get done due to an obstructionist Congress, but rather is based on what the President, himself, does in the names of the American population.
The 2008 election success was a direct result of not only Americans’ weariness of perpetual war, but also because they were promised a different America, based in the restoration of the rule of law and the restoration of civil liberties and constitutional rights. Rather than pulling us back to a time where the Constitution, the law of the land was respected and held sacred, we find ourselves governed by a President, a constitutional lawyer, who challenges the boundaries of the Constitution to justify the continued erosion of the rights and liberties of the people. It is evident that Barack Obama believes the Constitution to be pliable, a means to an end, rather than holding the Constitution, the law of the land, as the end.
We often hear the question if we are safer now in the post 9/11 era, or are we less safe? The homeland security machinery has grown exponentially. The technological era has NSA’s vigilant, all seeing eye, sifts through vast amounts of data and stores it on massive servers. The increased cost associated with domestic security alone is estimated to have cost a few hundred billion dollars providing unparalleled resources to the national security apparatus. We waged war on two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, and have expanded military operations into Pakistan, the Yemen and Somalia costing trillions of dollars. Yet, the question remains, are we as a nation safer?
With every drone strike that destroys a village, maims or kills a civilian, we create countless terrorists. With every speech filled with hubris and rhetoric targeting faith or race-based demographic groups, we beget hatred. With every pronouncement of American exceptionalism, we breed resentment. Through this, our leaders have designed a machine that gives birth to terrorists and terrorism more effectively than any recruitment efforts offered by terrorist groups. When human beings bear witness to the reduction of their loved ones to unrecognizable pieces of flesh, shredded apart by missiles that drop from the skies above by anonymous, omnipresent drones, fundamental reason is replaced by a sense of hopelessness, revenge and apathy. Can we not recognize the violent murder of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children and friends, annihilates humanity, the very thing that safeguards against violent acts, such as terrorism? Once we destroy hope and kill dreams of whole populations of what they hold near and dear, we have become Al Qaeda’s best recruitment tool. Are we safer now than we were on September 10, 2002? I don’t think so.