On September 11, 2001, our nation witnessed the most devastating attack ever on American soil. Nearly 3,000 people were callously murdered by 19 madmen acting on orders from Osama bin Laden, the fanatical founder of the terrorist organization, al-Qaeda.
The cries for retribution were immediate; and then-President George W. Bush sought properly to oblige. Just three days after the attacks, he declared near Ground Zero, “[T]he people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
Unfortunately, justice did not come quickly. While some of al-Qaeda’s leaders were picked off one-by-one, bin Laden was increasingly seen as the “one who got away.” But more than nine years removed from these acts of cowardice, he has finally been brought to justice; shot dead by US Navy SEALs who raided bin Laden’s fortified estate near the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.
Thankfully, at least this chapter in America’s battle with Islamic terrorism — the one titled, “Osama bin Laden” — is finished. However, the fight against terrorism itself remains very much alive; as does the process of cleaning up the mess left behind by the September 11, 2001 attacks masterminded by this man — a process that should begin by taking stock of the liberties we as Americans have lost in the past decade.
The attacks on our nation financed and planned by bin Laden’s organization have altered our lives dramatically; causing leaders in both major political parties (often with strong public opinion support) to stray from the values that had made us what we are. We have allowed our government to largely neuter the Fourth Amendment by way of the PATRIOT Act and warrantless wiretapping programs that empower the government to snoop on its own citizens. We are no longer able to fly without being cleared from secret “no-fly” lists, and then being subject to highly invasive pat-downs and full-body scans by TSA agents. We have spent trillions on security theater and two long and extreme costly wars fought in the name of the war on terrorism.
Praise is deserved for bringing bin Laden to justice. But, far more important, it is time to start restoring the liberties that have been taken from us in the aftermath of 9/11.
Supporting repeal of those provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act set to expire at the end of this month — provisions not essential to investigating and thwarting terrorist plots or acts — would be an important signal that this President, unlike his predecessor, understands that those civil liberties put on hold the past 9-1/2 years, must not be considered permanently frozen
By Bob Barr — The Barr Code