09/11/2023 Ryan McMaken / https://mises.org/wire/america
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One sees many flags at half-mast across the country today. And rightly so. Thanks in part to the negligence and incompetence of the CIA and FBI, the Federal government failed disastrously at what it tells us is the regime’s number-one priority: public safety.
[Read More: “9/11 Was a Day of Unforgivable Government Failure” by Ryan McMaken]
More than 2,900 human beings died that day, the overwhelming majority of which were civilians working in ordinary private-sector jobs. Most of them paid taxes for many years to the government which told them that the government keeps them safe. Many victims continue to die to this day from illnesses caused by inhalation of building debris.
But the response to 9/11 has done far more damage to the republic than the perpetrators of 9/11 ever could. Even worse, the regime’s architects of the countless assaults on freedom and human rights that have come in the wake of 9/11 have never been punished.
After 9/11 we were forced to endure nearly two decades of major wars. The Iraq war relied on post-9/11 fears to push the narrative that Saddam Hussein had weapons that could be used to attack Americans. US regime mouthpieces repeatedly hinted that Saddam maybe had planned or funded the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban in Afghanistan were essentially blamed for training the terrorists said to have perpetrated 9/11. (The fact that the Saudis were likely bankrolling the terrorists was carefully avoided.) In the end, the wars did absolutely nothing to enhance either the freedom or the safety of Americans. Thousands of American families have paid for these pointless wars with their own blood or with the blood of their sons and brothers and fathers. Hundreds of millions of Americans continue to pay for the wars through higher taxes to service war debts, and through the inevitable price inflation that has come after two decades of runaway spending. All this, of course, ignores the hundreds of thousands of innocent foreign victims of the regime.
On the domestic front, we’ve also fallen victim to 20 years of the federal government shredding the rights supposedly protected by the Bill of Rights. Between the Patriot act, the TSA, countless abuses of the FISA court, and non-stop spying on peaceful Americans, the federal government’s “war on terror” has largely been a war on Americans. Or as Patrick Eddington put it in 2021:
From the creation of the sprawling, privacy invading Department of Homeland Security (2002) to the passage of the FISA Amendments Act (2008, required to make portions of the previously illegal Stellarwind program legal) to the Transportation Security Agency’s (TSA) Quiet Skies passenger surveillance programs (2012) to the burgeoning use of facial recognition by law enforcement at all levels, we now live in an age where our buying habits, web browsing history, air travel records, social media posts and more can be collected, analyzed and weaponized against us — often with little or no pretext or true, valid criminal predicate. … In all the ways that matter, Americans are now viewed by their government as suspects first, citizens second.
Ridiculously, all of this has been justified by George W. Bush’s slogan purporting to explain why terrorists target the US: “They hate us because we’re free.” (If too much freedom in America is the cause of terrorism, surely the problem has now been eliminated.)
Yet, none of the policymakers and technocrats who pushed the failed wars and the assaults on freedom have ever been called to account. As far as the regime and its friends in the media are concerned, it doesn’t matter that the regime was wrong about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. It doesn’t matter that the US invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban—and then failed to do so after two decades of war. It doesn’t matter that US wars paved the way for al-Qaeda in Iraq and for slavery in Libya. It doesn’t matter that the US invaded a sovereign nation under false pretexts and leveled entire cities—doing nearly everything for which Washington now condemns Moscow.
Many of those behind these fits of foreign and domestic imperialism—i.e, Dick Cheney and Bush and Hillary Clinton—retired in comfort. Some are still in office like Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, and Diane Feinstein. And many of them continue to push their agendas at Washington think tanks where these “advisors” continue to be hailed as “experts” on foreign policy and “democracy.” These people wrote memoirs. They appear on talk shows.
My older readers may recall names like Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Condoleezza Rice, and Judith Miller. All of these people still enjoy positions of respect and status within the central circles of Washington establishment politics. There is no accountability. There aren’t even half-hearted apologies.
So unrepentant are these people that they even emerge from their universities, country clubs, and luxury homes to lecture the public about freedom and democracy every now and then. Just last week, Dick Cheney took to social media to condemn Donald Trump as a threat “to our republic.” This video echoes a similar condemnation from George W. Bush in 2021.
In a more reasonable world, people like Cheney, Rice, Bolton, et al, would all be forgotten, shamed, disgraced politicians. They all would have been forced into retirement and shunned years ago after overseeing multiple disastrous wars abroad and the creation of a surveillance state at home. Many of them would just now be emerging from prison for their crimes against both international law and the US Constitution.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a more reasonable world. In twenty-first century America (so far) it doesn’t matter how many trillions are wasted on lost wars, how many Americans are sent to die in vain, or how many innocent foreigners are incinerated by American bombs. For the regime, all that matters is that the public keeps buying the lie that the regime “keeps us safe” and that the government experts “know better.” It doesn’t matter that the Fourth Amendment is now a dead letter, or that “anti-terrorism” legislation is now largely used to target ordinary American citizens who are now deemed terrorists or insurrectionists for trespassing in government buildings.
In recent years, when 9/11 is commemorated, we are told only to remember regime-approved sentiments such as “freedom isn’t free” and “support the troops.” We are not supposed to remember how the regime used the deaths of janitors, receptionists, and firefighters on that day to justify wholesale attacks on privacy, private property, and the Bill of Rights.
We’re all now just supposed to pretend it never happened. Yet, if we wish to make even a start at undoing some of the damage, Americans have to stop listening to the despots and liars who used the pain and fear of 9/11 to advance their long-planned dreams of empire and a police state. Any politician or bureaucrat who supported or supports the post-9/11 wars, the Patriot Act, or today’s federal spying regime should be assumed to have worthless and dangerous opinions. These people have already proven their inability to make lawful or prudent decisions. Even worse are the despicable charlatans who cynically claim “hindsight is 20/20” when anyone with any respect for freedom or the rule of law could see the evils that would follow the frenzy of new laws and wars that followed 9/11. Candidates or policymakers who insist the wars and the despotism have all sprung from “good intentions” or that the likes of Cheney and Bush “did their best” are not worth hearing from. Unfortunately, as the Dick Cheney video last week reminded us, these people still haven’t gone away.
Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is executive editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power and Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in public policy and international relations from the University of Colorado. He was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Breaking Away: The Case of Secession, Radical Decentralization, and Smaller Polities and Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.